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The recently-published NMCU Strategic Plan 2016-2018 found other “threats” to be fraudulent data submitted by applicants seeking eligibility, the negative impact arising from data management issues, and the requirement to respond in a timely manner to changes in Government policy.
The report also identified weaknesses in the current operation of the Unit.
These weaknesses include: manual processing involving large volumes of paper; limited access for customers to speak with a deciding officer; public and political criticism of the medical card application process; and customer confusion and misunderstanding about the eligibility assessment process.
The report deems the Unit’s strengths to be in providing a single, uniform system for medical card applications and renewal assessments and having the largest reliable database of customers participating in primary care centres.
The NMCU was established in 2011 to manage the processing of medical card applications at a national level.
The latest figures from the HSE show that 1,715,497 people had a full medical card at the end of July, down from 1,727,551 in June (target 1,687,443). Of these, 108,968 are covered by a discretionary medical card. Another 457,708 people are covered by a GP-visit card (target 464,606). Of these, 43,719 are covered by a discretionary GP-visit card. Meanwhile, 241,570 children have an under-sixes GP-visit card, and 87,559 people have an over-70s GP visit card, as at 1 August.
The HSE said that 98.1 per cent of properly completed medical card/GP visit card applications are now processed within a 15 working day turnaround time, exceeding the 95 per cent target.