SINN FEIN is reportedly proposing the introduction of free medical cards for all cancer patients in Ireland.
The plan comes as part of an alternative budget put forward by the party ahead of the Irish government’s actual budget this Tuesday, October 8.
They are also proposing giving people two free GP visits per year, setting up a Brexit stabilisation fund and introducing immediate rent freezes.
Sinn Fein told the Irish Mirror the free medical cards initiative has been fully costed by the party’s Department of Finance and has been set at €40million a year.
The policy would bring an end to the current system, which sees 17,000 adults with cancer forced to pay their own medical expenses.
Sinn Féin health spokeswoman, Louise O’Reilly, told the Irish Mirror the policy is one of the party’s central planks of their alternative budget.
“As it stands, medical cards are automatically awarded to children and adolescents under the age of 18 who have been diagnosed with cancer,” she said.
“For some time now there has been a genuine expectation amongst cancer patients and support organisations that, at some stage or another, this would be extended to all cancer patients.
“A cancer diagnosis can rock a person to the core; oftentimes they may end up giving up work or are working reduced hours; it can put a strain on finances and can put a strain on relationships.
“A cancer diagnosis results in increased expenses for the patient and combined with the possibility they have had to give up work, the situation can be financially crippling.”
Ms O’Reilly added: “Sinn Féin is proposing allocating medical cards to the over 17,000 people undergoing cancer treatment for the duration of their treatment so the burden can be eased on people at a time when they are in severe distress and give them help, support, and a break.”
According to additional information seen by TheJournal.ie, the party’s budget plan also proposes increasing social welfare payments by €5 and giving a €9 increase to those in receipt of disability payments.
Insurance and childcare costs have also been targeted in the alternative budget proposals for 2020 which also includes measures to lift the tax-free status on banks.