265. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Health if transplant patients who must take immunosuppressant medication for the rest of their lives following transplantations will be covered under the long-term illness scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19688/18 asked on 08 May 2018)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): The Long Term Illness (LTI) Scheme was established under section 59(3) of the Health Act 1970 (as amended). The conditions covered by the LTI are: acute leukaemia; mental handicap; cerebral palsy; mental illness (in a person under 16); cystic fibrosis; multiple sclerosis; diabetes insipidus; muscular dystrophies; diabetes mellitus; parkinsonism; epilepsy; phenylketonuria; haemophilia; spina bifida; hydrocephalus; and conditions arising from the use of Thalidomide. Under the LTI Scheme, patients receive drugs, medicines, and medical and surgical appliances directly related to the treatment of their illness, free of charge. 

 There are no plans to extend the list of conditions covered by the Scheme.  

However, for people who are not eligible for the LTI scheme, there are other arrangements which protect them from excessive medicine costs.  

Under the Drug Payment Scheme, no individual or family pays more than €134 a month towards the cost of approved prescribed medicines. The scheme significantly reduces the cost burden for families and individuals with ongoing expenditure on medicines.  

People who cannot, without undue hardship, arrange for the provision of medical services for themselves and their dependants may be entitled to a medical card. In the assessment process, the HSE can take into account medical costs incurred by an individual or a family.   

People who are not eligible for a medical card may still be able to avail of a GP visit card, which covers the cost of GP consultations.