Dáil Éireann - Volume 517 - 11 April, 2000
Written Answers. - Long-term Illness Scheme.
Mr. Sargent Mr. Sargent
282. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Health and Children the plans, if any, he has to have minority illness such as Dubowitz syndrome and auto immune syndrome included in the register of long-term illnesses which are on the World Health Organisation list of registered diseases as well as the more common long-term illnesses such as cystic fibrosis and multiple sclerosis; and the measures, if any, he will introduce to alleviate the enormous stress and expense of dealing with long-term illness not officially on the register. [10781/00]
Mr. Martin Mr. Martin
Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): The long-term illness scheme entitles persons to free drugs and medicines which are prescribed in respect of a specific schedule of illnesses. The illnesses covered by this scheme are mental handicap, mental illness – for persons under 16 years  only – phenylketonuria, cystic fibrosis, spina bifida, hydrocephalus, diabetes mellitus, diabetes insipidus, haemophilia, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophies, parkinsonism and acute leukaemia.
The long-term illness scheme has not been extended since 1975 and there are no plans to extend the scheme, having regard to the other schemes available to help people with the cost of drugs and medicines. For example, 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.
Non-medical card holders can avail of the drug payment scheme, which was introduced on 1 July 1999 with a threshold of £42 per individual or family unit. The primary aim of the scheme is to bring about improvements over previous schemes and it is designed to be user friendly and to significantly improve the cash flow for families and individuals incurring ongoing expenditure on medicines.
Dáil Éireann 517 Written Answers. Long-term Illness Scheme.