A CLARE mother says she may soon have to stop buying essential medication for her eight-year-old son following the loss of his discretionary medical card.
Noreen Keane from Cratloe and her son Ronan will stage a protest in Dublin this Saturday, in a last ditch attempt to force the HSE to reverse the decision. Ronan was born with Down Syndrome and suffers from 13 related conditions including acute asthma, a cardiac condition as well as sight and hearing difficulties.
According to Noreen, the cost of medication, therapy and doctor visits for Ronan costs an average of €2,300 per month. The HSE contacted Noreen last February, informing her that Ronan’s discretionary medical card was to be revoked.
This decision was upheld after an appeal, prompting Noreen to begin a campaign last month to highlight her son’s situation. In the last number of weeks the “Ronan’s Cause” site on Facebook has gained more than 4,000 friends.
Noreen and Ronan also protested outside the Fine Gael Ard Fheis in Limerick in October, at which time Taoiseach, Enda Kenny (FG), committed to meeting her. This meeting has yet to take place.
“They are putting my child’s life at risk by taking away this medical card. I just can’t provide all these services for him so how am I supposed to prioritise things? Should I reduce the medication that he needs or do I stop bringing him to the doctor?” said Noreen.
“I’m going to keep fighting for this. I’m tired, I’d be lying if I said otherwise. I am a single mother. But I am going to keep fighting for this. I don’t have any other choice. Should I stop buying oil for the house or should I stop buying his medication? Then if the house is cold he is going to get sick.
“I work full time and I’m being penalised because I work. We are a one income family. When the medical card was issued to Ronan eight years ago we were a two-income family so we are much worse off now than when the card was originally issued. So how can they [the HSE] say that the system has not changed?”
This Saturday Noreen and Ronan will walk from the PCRS office in Finglas to the Dáil – a six mile journey that will take them around six hours to complete.

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Andrew has been working in the media in the West of Ireland for more than a decade. During that time he has been shortlisted for many national journalism awards, served as a judge for the Choice Music Prize in 2008 and was part of the nominating panel for the Meteor Ireland Music Awards from 2008 to 2011. He holds an MA in Journalism and Public Relation and a BA in English, Sociology and Politics. He is currently working on his debut novel. A selection of his writings, including a number of short stories can be viewed on Where The Rain Falls at https://wheretherainfallslifeemerges.blogspot.com/ Follow Andrew on twitter: @Andrew_CPeople Contact Andrew on ahamilton@clarepeople.ie

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