Dáil Éireann - Volume 474 - 29 January, 1997

Written Answers. - Medical Cards.

69. Dr. O'Hanlon asked the Minister for Health if he will ensure that recipients of social [185] welfare assistance are not refused medical cards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2369/97]

Minister for Health (Mr. 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 hardhship, to provide general practitioner services for themselves and their dependants.

Assessment procedures are also a matter for the chief executive officers. 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. Persons in receipt of social welfare assistance normally qualify for medical card entitlement based on these guidelines.

In addition, 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.

Every person who is in genuine need of a medical card must, of course, receive one and I am satisfied that the health boards give sympathetic consideration to applications when the circumstances warrant it.