Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has criticised the Government’s long delay in issuing medical cards to seriously ill children whose families have access to a Domiciliary Care Allowance.
The Sinn Féin TD said that there was a commitment in the last Budget to award medical cards to children who qualify for Domiciliary Care allowance, but a shortfall in the funding allocated to the initiative has meant that medical cards are being held up indefinitely in order to save money, regardless of the impact to the children and their families.
Health Minister Simon Harris told the Seanad recently that a new Bill would be brought before the Oireachtas “as quickly as possible” to deliver on the commitment made in October that all children on the domiciliary care allowance would automatically qualify for a medical card.
Around 33,000 children in Ireland are currently in receipt of the DCA.
These children have already been deemed by the State to have a ‘disability so severe that the child requires care and attention substantially in excess of another child of the same age’.
Currently, children with life-long disabilities, life-limiting or life-threatening conditions that last for more than one year routinely qualify.
While many of these have access to a medical card, a large number, around 10,000, do not and their parents are still waiting.
Deputy Seán Crowe believes bad financial management has led to broken promises.
“Sinn Féin’s Alternative Budget set aside €17 million to cover the cost of these medical cards.
“The Government in its wisdom failed to identify in its own budget sufficient funding and that is causing the long delay in seriously sick children receiving a medical card.
“Unfortunately for thousands of families across the state- there is no respite.
“They have sick children, children who need care, children who desperately need access to services.
“They battle every day for their children and sadly, many of their battles are with the State and this is wrong on so many levels.
“These families and their children should be receiving our full support, not broken promises of an elusive medical card.
“Many of us had hoped that when the Dáil passed a Sinn Féin motion in July last year, and the Government made a budget commitment in October, that we would swiftly move to lift one of the greatest hurdles these families are facing- access to a medical cards- but this has not happened.”
Deputy Seán Crowe says the Governments delay in issuing medical cards to these children is unacceptable.
“What sort of society or political system withholds medical cards from children with severe disabilities or life-threatening, and sometimes, terminal illnesses?
“What sort of political system tells the parents of a young child with disabilities and illnesses that the granting or continuation of a child’s medical card depends on the parents jumping through bureaucratic hoops to prove they do not somehow earn too much?
“Access to quality health care should be a right, not a concession to be granted or withheld by any Government, Minister, or civil servant.
“We are now in 2017 and the promise of a hassle free medical card has still not been delivered.
“This is cruel and simply not good enough. Parents had realistic expectations after the Budget announcement, yet the Government have stalled and dragged this.
“The Minister knows, from his own meeting with the advocacy group Our Children’s Health, that these parents are worn out and that the medical card process is torture in slow motion, with constant form filling, endless reviews, rejection, and appeals.
“Many of the parents affected are gravely concerned that they won’t get a positive medical card outcome until the middle of 2017. This is cruel, unacceptable and its vulnerable children that are the victims.”