Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called on the Minister for Health Simon Harris to immediately intervene to suspend plans by the HSE and the Irish Prison Service to automatically grant a Medical Card to all individuals who are set to be released from prison. Deputy McGrath was speaking after the HSE confirmed that a pilot scheme for the new project is already in operation in Cork Prison:
“I think this is the kind of initiative that will generate massive resentment in community’s right across the country.
I have pensioners and chronically ill individuals and families who cannot access a Medical Card or who are experiencing severe delays in having their applications processed.
Why are we not prioritising families like that instead of investing valuable resources to make the lives of those who may have attacked or burglarised a pensioner easier?
Why is there no guarantee being given to the long stay patient in a hospital under the Fair Deal Scheme that when they get home there will be a Medical Card waiting in the post?
It is absolutely absurd to think that one of the quickest ways to get a Medical Card in this country may eventually be to commit a crime, receive a custodial sentence and then re-emerge into society with a Medical Card in hand!
This is a Scheme, whatever its merits for individual cases, that need to be immediately suspended,” concluded Deputy McGrath.