Some 700 people in Laois Offaly have had their medical cards removed over the past two years according to figures provided in the Dáil.
Figures published before the Government appeared to have backtracked on the removal of cards show that the two counties, which are grouped for medical card purposes, also have amongst the highest number of discretionary and GP only cards in the country. However, the counties also suffered badly in the card cull since 2012.
In reply to a Dáil question Minister of State at the Department of Health Alex White provided statistics for medical and GP visit cards granted, where discretion was involved, from early 2012 onwards.
Figures for the Laois/ Offaly health offices revealed that at the start of April 2012 there were 4,648 discretionary and GP only cards in Laois/Offaly.
However, a year later this had been cut by 13% to 4,031. The cutting of cards slowed since than. But by the start of April this year there were 3,961 such cards. The national table shows that Laois Offaly health office has one of the highest medical card in the state. Minister White also questioned this last month.
“How can it be that over the years Cork, Limerick, Tipperary, Laois, Offaly, Clare and Waterford have had a higher number of medical cards awarded on discretionary grounds than some other counties?
“These are not small differences but huge disparities. It is not fair we have a system which is not transparent,” he told a Dáil debate.