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Order of Business

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Senator Maurice Cummins

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Order of Business
Snippet Contents:

The acting leader of the Opposition, Senator MacSharry, raised an important question about discretionary medical cards for people who have serious illnesses. As he mentioned, since 2011, 22,584 individuals who were previously recorded on the medical card register as eligible for those cards are now, because they meet the income eligibility requirements, registered as ordinary medical card holders. As Senator MacSharry stated, the number of discretionary medical cards has been reduced although many of the people who had those discretionary cards now qualify as ordinary medical card holders. The official position, which I have in front of me, is that there is not and never has been an automatic entitlement to a medical card for persons with a specific illness. That has been the position since the Health Act 1970. There is no legal basis for a cancer or motor neuron medical card. I believe that the Government has a moral obligation in cases in which people who have such serious illnesses should be looked after. However, Senator MacSharry's question is answered by the fact that the majority of those 22,000 people qualify for an ordinary medical card.