LAOIS-OFFALY TD Brian Stanley has attacked the delay in processing medical card claims, describing the predicament many people are in as being akin to “a Third World situation”.
Speaking this week to the Leinster Express, Deputy Stanley said his office had received numerous calls since July, from people who are waiting months to have their medical card application renewed, or their fresh claim processed. He blamed the recent centralisation of all applications to the Primary Care Reimbursement Service (PCRS). He said this had removed local representation from the process and reduced people to statistics.
“The administration of medical cards used to be dealt with by the health centre on the Dublin Road in Portlaoise, but since July it’s been centralised to Finglas.
“It worked well, because in exceptional circumstances people could contact their public representative, or make the case themselves, if they were over the limit. It’s very difficult now because it’s centralised.”
Dep Stanley said that under the old system, officials processing claims would usually know the person involved and all information could be clarified locally, but now “familiarity has gone out the window”.
“In genuine cases of hardship, the local HSE would try to assist, but now you’re dealing with anonymous people on the phone and the applicant is seen as a number, not a family,” he said.
Dep Stanley went on to say that he suspects the delay is a deliberate ploy by the Government to reduce the amount of money being spent and the number of people claiming. He said he had contacted the Minister for Health, but as of yet no response has been furnished on the issue.
In the meantime, Dep Stanley advises anyone applying for a medical card to ensure they provide as much accurate information as possible and to retain all copies of everything sent.