Interest groups call for refunds after medical card U-turn

The Government is being urged to go one step further in its U-turn over medical cards, and refund people for the costs incurred while their cards were revoked.

15,000 discretionary medical cards which were removed over the past three years will be returned within the next month.

However, a number of groups claim that is not enough, as many have been forced to spend thousands of euro on medical costs while their card was out of service.

"It varies from family to family, but we would have, certainly, a good indication that a number of families have incurred serious expenses in this regard," said Pat Clarke, CEO of Down Syndrome Ireland.

"I do believe that some consideration should be made to those families."

However, the Minister for Health James Reilly yesterday said there was "no basis for a refund" and the withdrawal of cards had been within the law. He insisted there were no Government plans to issue any refund of medical costs.

The head of the Jack and Jill foundation, Jonathan Irwin, also added his voice to calls for refunds.

"The money here is ludicrous," he said. "These parents, through sweat, and blood, and love, have kept these children at home – if they hadn't done that, they'd have been in hospital, and the Government would have been facing thousands. If not millions."

Adding his comments this afternoon, the Minister for Communications, Pat Rabbitte, said he believes the Government simply "can't afford" to compensate people.

"People have to understand that this country is still in economic recovery … the payment of compensation can't be afforded by the Government," he said

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