Up to half of the country’s children with Down’s syndrome are at risk of losing their discretionary medical cards, a leading advocacy group has revealed.Down Syndrome Ireland says that hundreds of children with the disability have already lost the medical benefit.
It also believes that children with Down’s syndrome will not receive discretionary medical cards – based on health needs rather than income - at birth.
Around 2,000 children under the age of 16 are estimated to have the condition in Ireland.
While the HSE hasn’t furnished figures on the number of children with Down’s syndrome who have lost their card, it says those who are not entitled to the cards are having them withdrawn.
Pat Clarke, CEO of Down Syndrome Ireland said “we would feel that 1,000 children are at risk”.
“This adds an additional burden to parents for both doctors fees and prescriptions.”
“Where there are people with Down Syndrome, there are a lot of attendant costs that aren’t taken into account like babysitting services or the fact that one parent may have to give up their job.”
“We have received correspondence from almost 150 parents who are worried about this, and we’re trying to advise them on what they can do,” he said.
Parents can appeal the decision, Mr Clarke said, and the advocacy group is now advising them on how to do so.
At the Dail’s Public Accounts Committee on November 14, HSE officials could not provide answers to questions on how many of the 6,324 discretionary medical cards removed following review, were from children with Down’s syndrome.