“When you’re affecting the sickest people in Ireland, it would make you sick yourself - I don’t know what kind of society we’re going to have.”
So said Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald at County Hall last week, lambasting the “savage cuts” to the discretionary medical card imposed by Minister James Reilly. Cllr Fitzgerald was joined by Cllr Caroline Dwane and Cllr Kathleen O’Brien, in proposing motions to write to the Minister outlining concerns over the proposed reduction in the number of medical cards, the withdrawal of the phone rental allowance, and increased prescription charges on medical card holders.
“I’ve never had so many people approaching me on an issue,” said Cllr Fitzgerald. “There are ordinary people with serious health problems and over 1,000 medical cards are being taken away. What bugs me is the spin being put on it.”
She said this was a huge problem for society, and added: “Imagine being just over the line with a sick child and having to keep filling in forms.”
Cllr Dwane remarked that all the councillors knew of people with serious conditions who had their cards withdrawn.
“I know of several cases where the card is a necessity,” she said. “I know of one person who has cancer and one kidney and no card, and they’re having to pay out medical fees.”
Cllr Dwane also criticised the withdrawal of the phone allowance as “a mean-spirited cut”.
“There’s been an increase in burglaries and elderly people are dependent on alarms, but the alarms won’t work without phone lines,” she said.
“The prescription charges have gone up to €2.50,” said Cllr O’Brien. “That’s a lot of money for a person to pay on a medical card, that’s a lot of money out of your pension.”