The Social Democrats are pushing for the Government to scrap the 'cancer charge' for patients in Ireland.
Party TD Jennifer Whitmore says the cost of cancer treatment in Ireland can currently prove "very traumatic" for patients.
There has long been criticism of some of the charges facing many cancer patients in Ireland, including an €80 charge per treatment session (up to a cap of €800 per year).
That's on top of other costs such as transport and car parking charges.
Groups such as the Irish Cancer Society have also sharply criticised the HSE's use of debt collectors to pursue patients with unpaid hospital bills.
On Lunchtime Live, Deputy Whitmore says the 'cost of cancer' is an issue that's rarely talked about.
She said: “It’s not the first thing you think about. If you’re getting a bad diagnosis, you want your focus to be on dealing with that diagnosis and looking after your own or your family’s health... [rather than] whether you’re going to be able to afford the car parking charges, to feed yourself while you’re getting treatment, or the inpatient charges the HSE could put on you.”
Is it fair that newly diagnosed cancer patients have to deal with a financial burden along with a medical one? @andreagilligan is joined by @WhitmoreJen to discuss the issue, ahead of a Dáil motion on bringing down the #CostOfCancer. @LunchtimeLiveNT pic.twitter.com/d2PdMIU6zu
— NewstalkFM (@NewstalkFM) February 1, 2022
The Wicklow TD said cancer patients who don't have a medical card or private health insurance have to pay €80 per treatment, up to a maximum of €800 per year.
Her party's now bringing a motion before the Dáil tomorrow calling for that charge to be abolished, as well as for the use of debt collectors to be stopped.
They're also looking for a cap on parking charges for patients.
Deputy Whitmore said that cap was something promised in the Programme for Government, but her party now wants to see movement on that.
She said this motion is focused on the cost of cancer specifically - and they'll be relying on the Government to accept the proposals and actually implement them.
She observed: “I don’t think, in any society like ours, it’s acceptable to have debt collectors within 47 days of having a devastating diagnosis. I hope the Government sees that as well.
“It also costs the HSE to use the debt collectors - this is a business in itself. The HSE obviously does have to recoup its cost, but how it does it is equally important.
“By chasing them with debt collectors... I think it’s the wrong way to go about it.”
She added that €800 in inpatient charges is a lot for people to be paying to the HSE for vital care.