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Order of Business

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Senator Marc MacSharry

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Order of Business
Snippet Contents:

I was going to propose an amendment to the Order of Business but two have already been proposed in respect of very important issues and I do not want to compromise the possibility of their being accepted. In such circumstances, will the Deputy Leader indicate whether time could be made available tomorrow, if not later today, for a debate on a particular matter? It seems that the HSE's national service plan, which seeks to take €619 million out of the health budget, was approved by the Minister for Health yesterday. I am glad that the mythical figure relating to the cull in respect of medical cards has been reduced from €113 million to €23 million. It is vital that we debate this matter, particularly as the number of services which are going to be cut is very worrying. I cannot help thinking that the delay in publishing the plan until now was specifically in order that we would not be in a position to engage in a debate on it before Christmas. The approach appears to have been that delaying publication would in some way make it go away. As far as I am concerned, it is not going to go away.
This matter must be debated. The level of savings being sought in respect of the area health is far too high. Many of the targets set by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, such as those envisaged in respect of the medical card budget, were completely unrealistic and picked out of the air. Far too blunt an instrument is being used with regard to the assessment of medical cards, particularly those of a discretionary nature. This morning I have been working on the case of a lady in her 30s who has cancer and whose medical card has been taken away. I do not understand how anyone with any level of compassion or understanding could remove such a person's medical card. We must begin to look at matters in a more compassionate and humane way. I may table an amendment to tomorrow's Order of Business in respect of this matter. I trust that the Deputy Leader will try to make some time available between now and the end of the week in order that the House might discuss the HSE's national service plan.