Rethink on medical card move urged

Withholding discretionary medical cards from non-terminal cancer patients will be a financial “tipping point” for some families, health officials have been warned.

The Irish Cancer Society said senior management need to “reconsider” plans to stop automatically providing the support to people who do not have a life-limiting form of the condition.

Laverne McGuinness, HSE director of integrated services, said at Wednesday’s Oireachtas health committee meeting medical cards can no longer be automatically guaranteed to cancer patients unless the diagnosis is terminal. Health Minister James Reilly, who is discussing the matter with the HSE, said this is because treatment improvements mean a cancer diagnosis is no longer always as serious an issue as it has been.

Under the health service plans, any cancer patient seeking the card needs to receive the support of their GP or consultant.

The application is then assessed by a panel of doctors, with cards only automatically given when the diagnosis is terminal.

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