Sunday, May 25, 2014

Kids will suffer because of medical card cuts

by Pat Flanagan from the Irish Mirrior:
Head of Down Syndrome Ireland backs our campaign to change law for children's health
The law must be changed or all children with Down Syndrome will not receive a medical card, it was claimed on Wednesday.
The head of Down Syndrome Ireland said the practice of awarding cards on the basis of a child’s financial situation – not the state of their health – must stop.
The Irish Mirror is campaigning to have the 1970 Act changed to allow all children with the condition to receive a medical card.
At present, even youngsters who are severely ill cannot get a card if their parents are earning as little as €5 over the cut-off limit.
Down Syndrome Ireland boss Pat Clarke said HSE officials, who have asked if children with the condition have got better, are totally out of touch.
He insisted: “The law needs to be changed and we’ve been asking for this for some time.
“Many, many years ago there were the county medical officer in each region who looked at each individual case and would know these individual people and be able to assess the medical condition all these children with Down Syndrome had.
“In the main, all those children with Down Syndrome would have got their medical card.
“They’d have looked at the health of that particular child and ultimately would have granted it.
“Now they are just ticking a whole lot of items on a form and making a decision then as to whether that person qualifies or not, but it mainly based on finance and that is the problem with the 1970s Act.
“It is a finance-based thing – it is not based on the medical condition of the applicant.”
On Tuesday the Government announced a review of the situation but Mr Clarke fears this could be a ploy to appease angry voters before the local and Euro elections.
He told Today with Sean O’Rourke: “I was very sceptical when I first heard it.
“When Minister Noonan said he wasn’t going to make an announcement this week... because it would be seen as a political stunt.
“In reality I probably feel it is just as much a stunt to have announced it at such short notice.
“And then on Tuesday night he rowed back and said it won’t happen next week, it’s going to happen in the coming months, without giving any indication as to what that review will entail.”
But Mr Clarke warned that unless there is a radical overhaul of the law, children with Down Syndrome will continue to lose their cards.
He added: “The Government has announced a complete review of all medical card issuance to all its clients – they have taken away the discretion that was there.
“From our surveys online and otherwise there are up to 1,000 children with Down Syndrome who have lost their medical card or certainly who are under review and at risk.”

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