Social Democrats TD Róisín Shorthall has called for the abolition of all inpatient charges as cancer patients are being priced out of care.
A mother-of-five who was forced to quit her job while she undergoes treatment for stage 4 cancer said the costs are pushing her family back into poverty.
"It's a stand-out issue that needs to be addressed", Deputy Shorthall told The Hard Shoulder.
"It's inhumane, in my view."
"It is just unbelievable that a person in the circumstances that Linda was in, and is in, should have the further worry about cost", she said.
"Everybody is struggling this time with the rising cost of living and the cost of energy and all that, and Linda has a family of five."
Earlier this year, the Social Democrats tabled a motion to abolish the inpatient charge for cancer patients.
According to Deputy Shorthall, the government opposed the motion because "you couldn't abolish charges for one group of patients".
The government has since abolished charges for children.
The Irish Cancer Society, as well as the Social Democrats, are now calling for the abolition of charges for all inpatients.
The party estimates the cost of such a move would be around €30 million, which Deputy Shorthall believes "very small, relative to the health budget".
"These are all hidden costs that nobody realises are there until they find themselves in that situation", she said.
Patients who are not medical card holders and don't have private health insurance are charged €80 per night, but the ongoing cost is capped at €800.
"Bear in mind that a person who is reeling from a diagnosis like that and may have had their first treatment, and the next thing they get an invoice in the post", Deputy Shorthall said.
"After 47 days, if you haven't paid those charges, you have debt collectors coming after you ... ringing you up, threatening that if you don't pay this within a certain number of days, you will lose your credit rating, all of those things."
'Pushed into poverty'
Speaking to The Hard Shoulder, Linda Bowdler said she made the "heart-breaking" decision to retire at the end of July – and has yet to receive a medical card or any form of social welfare payment.
The 45-year-old said her diagnosis has had a hugely negative impact on her family’s finances and she is now living with her diagnosis and the guilt she feels when she is unable to afford extra expenses for her children.
GP visits, trips to collect prescriptions and colonoscopies have all become routine parts of Linda’s life and without a medical card, they all still need to be paid for.
“It all adds up."
Listen back to the full conversation with Róisín Shorthall here.