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Medical card renewal problems – Change needed now

March 24, 2010

The current backlog in renewing medical cards is outrageous and causing untold difficulties to thousands of ill Older People according to the Irish Senior Citizens Parliament.

As it is self-evident from the HSE’s own figures and statistics that the vast majority of Older People qualify for a medical card, the ISCP proposes that until such time as the difficulties being experienced in processing medical card renewals are resolved all medical cards for Older People should be extended for a period of two years with immediate effect.

By this process staff should be freed up to handle applications from those who are newly unemployed and also alleviate some of the hardship they are suffering.

Any new cards being issued should be for a three year period rather than the current two year period. We demand that the HSE immediately seek clearance from the Department of Health and Children to implement this proposal.

“The backlog in respect of the renewal of cards for people over 70 in the Finglas centre is now running into the thousands. This backlog coupled with the short renewal period is causing problems and hardship for Older People. These difficulties are further compounded by the fact that people cannot get replies to telephone queries made to the central renewal office” said the Parliament’s CEO, Máiréad Hayes.

“The practical effect of this is that Older People who are entitled to a medical card have instead to pay substantial medical fees and prescription charges. For those on continuing medication, the position has become an intolerable financial burden which is inflicting great hardship and may lead to further their health problems ” continued Ms Hayes.

“These difficulties further strengthen our view that the decision to remove the Universal right to a medical card from the over-70s was a very bad one. A long-term solution to this backlog is to restore this universal entitlement and thus protect the health of Older People” concluded Ms Hayes.

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