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Written Answers. - Eligibility for Medical Cards.

Wednesday, 8 May 1996

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 465 No. 1

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[101]

 66. Dr. O'Hanlon Information on Rory O'Hanlon Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  asked the Minister for Health Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan  the various employment and social welfare schemes which entitle a person to retain their general medical services card; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9015/96]

Minister for Health (Mr. Noonan,: Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan Limerick East): Under the Health Act, 1970, medical cards are issued to persons who, in the opinion of the chief executive officer of the appropriate health board are unable, without undue hardship, to provide general practitioner services for themselves and their dependants.

Income guidelines are drawn up by the chief executive officers to assist in the determination of a person's eligibility and these guidelines are revised annually in line with the consumer price index. These guidelines are not statutorily binding and even though a person's income exceeds the guidelines, that person may still be awarded a medical card if the chief executive officer considers that the person's medical needs or other circumstances would justify this.

The chief executive officers of the health boards have agreed to implement the following measures to assist medical card holders who take up employment or participate in schemes and who could be considered to remain entitled to a medical card on hardship grounds: persons who held the medical card while on the Live Register are allowed to retain the medical card for a period of two years after securing paid insurable employment if they qualify for family income supplement in respect of that employment; persons who held a medical card while on the live register are allowed to retain the medical card for a period of two years after securing a placement on the community employment programme; persons on the live register starting their own businesses who are paid a back-to-work allowance by the Department of Social Welfare and who are paid family income supplement in respect of that employment are allowed to retain their medical card for a period of two years; disabled persons participating in the employment support scheme who held a medical card before entering the scheme are allowed [102] retain the card for a period of two years; persons on the live register who participate in education, training or other recognised development courses are allowed retain their medical card; and weekly payments made under the community employment programme, back-to-work allowance and family income supplement are excluded income when assessing a person's eligibility for a medical card.

The recent budget also included a provision in relation to the retention of medical cards by persons who have been unemployed for at least one year prior to re-entering employment. Arrangements are being made for the implementation of this decision in accordance with the provisions of the Health Act, 1970.


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