Dáil Éireann - Volume 514 - 09 February, 2000
Written Answers. - Drugs Refund Scheme.
Mr. Yates Mr. Yates
180. Mr. Yates asked the Minister for Health and Children if his attention has been drawn to the effect on coeliac patients of the alterations of the drugs payment scheme whereby they are having to pay an additional £10 per month to qualify for the basic gluten free foods under the scheme; the measures, if any, he will introduce under the scheme to help defray the cost of this additional sum; if his attention has further been drawn to the long-term benefit to coeliac patients to avoid further medical complications which can result from non-compliance of the diet; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3749/00]
Mr. Martin Mr. Martin
Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): The new drug payment scheme, with a threshold of £42 per month per individual or family, was introduced on 1 July 1999 and replaced the drug cost subsidisation scheme – DCSS – and drug refund scheme – DRS. The primary aim of the new drug payment scheme is to bring about important improvements over the previous schemes and the scheme is designed to be more streamlined, user friendly and to significantly improve the cash flow situation for families and individuals incurring ongoing expenditure on medicines. With regard to the increase, I point out that there has been no increase in the thresholds for the DCSS or DRS since 1991.
A common list of reimbursable items was introduced for the general medical services scheme and the drug payment scheme to ensure equity in relation to the products reimbursed by the State under both schemes. The list of reimbursable  food items to which persons registered under the drug payment scheme are entitled is therefore in line with those items available to medical card holders and includes breads, bread mixes, flours and pizza bases. It is considered that the range of such items available under State reimbursement schemes provides a reasonable choice and persons requiring items which are not reimbursable would be expected to meet the full cost of such items. There are no plans to include other coeliac foods in the common list.
People who are unable without undue hardship to arrange for the provision of medical services for themselves and their dependants may be entitled to a medical card. Eligibility for a medical card is solely a matter for the chief executive officer of the relevant health board to decide. In determining eligibility for a medical card, the local health board has regard to the financial circumstances of the applicant. Income guidelines are used by health boards to assist in determining a person's eligibility. However, even though a person's income exceeds the guidelines, the 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. Medical cards may also be issued to individual family members on this basis.
Dáil Éireann 514 Written Answers. Drugs Refund Scheme.