Almost 10,000 children with disabilities are one step closer to receiving a full medical card.
Registration for a medical card opened this week to the 9,800 children who have a disability and are in receipt of a Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA).
Campaigners for sick children have been calling for the amendment for years, with the group Our Children’s Health demonstrating outside the Dáil nearly every day since 2014, to amend the 1970 Health Act.
Minister for Health Simon Harris, and Minister for Disability Care Finian McGrath announced the opening of the registration.
Last month, President Michael D Higgins signed the Health (Amendment) Bill into law following a Dáil vote last summer, to give the 33,000 children in receipt of the domiciliary care allowance (children with such an illness that requires care above the norm) a medical card. It comes into effect on June 1.
The card will be issued automatically and will not be subject to review. Before the Health Bill amendment, 10,000 of these children - despite being among the most unwell in the country - were not in receipt of a card.
Commenting Minister Harris said; “I’m really pleased to be publishing this Bill today. There are 33,000 parents who receive DCA for their children, but 9,800 of these children currently do not have a full medical card.
"This Bill rights this wrong, and I hope it will of assistance and relieve some of the stress these families experience. I would especially like to acknowledge the trojan work done by Our Children’s Health who have worked long and hard to make this happen. I look forward to working with all sides of the Oireachtas to pass this legislation as quickly as possible”.
Minister of State for Disability Issues Finian McGrath co-published the bill. He added in a statement: “I’m delighted that this is one less battle that parents and families of children with a disability will have to face. This previous medical card omission added to a constant struggle for families and caused further hardship and hurt.
“The provision of these 9,800 full medical cards was a vital element contained in the Programme for Government and Budget 2017 copper fastened this commitment. This is a good day and I particularly want to acknowledge and thank all the people with disabilities, their parents and families, voluntary groups and organisations who have campaigned on this issue over many years. This is your day”.
The HSE has been working to produce both a paper-based and an online registration system which is going live on 1st May, with parents being able to use their new medical cards from 1st June 2017.