Dáil Éireann - Volume 541 - 09 October, 2001
Written Answers. - Long-Term Illness Scheme.
Ms McManus Ms McManus
319. Ms McManus asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will update the 1970 Health Act to include Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis under the long-term illness list; if he will provide a non-means tested medical card to persons who suffer from these conditions; and if  he will make a statement on the matter. [23102/01]
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.
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 chief executive officer 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 and people with conditions other than those covered under the long-term illness scheme can avail of the drug payment scheme, which was introduced on 1 July 1999 and replaced the drug cost subsidisation scheme and drug refund scheme. Under the drug payment  scheme, no individual or family unit pays more than £42 per calendar month towards the cost of approved prescribed medicines. The primary aim of the drugs payments scheme is to bring about important improvements over the previous schemes and it is designed to be more streamlined, user friendly and significantly to improve the cash flow situation for families and individuals incurring ongoing expenditure on medicines.
Policy in relation to eligibility for health services will be outlined in the forthcoming health strategy.
Dáil Éireann 541 Written Answers. Long-Term Illness Scheme.