The opposition has strongly criticised the decision that cancer patients will no longer be automatically entitled to medical cards.
Cancer sufferers will now be scrutinised before being given free medical care.
The health minister, James Reilly, said it will be up to individual doctors to determine whether a patient should be given a medical card.
Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald criticised the move as cruel and heartless.
"I don't think any rational person, any fair person, would be of any other view than a person suffering with cancer should be entitled automatically to medical card coverage," she said.