The Taoiseach has apologised to people who had their medical cards withdrawn.
Enda Kenny has told the Dail that many people suffered unnecessary stress as a result of a review of discretionary medical cards.
People who have lost their medical cards in a review by the Health Service Executive (HSE) can expect to get them back within the next three weeks.
The government has agreed to give the health service an extra €13 million to return the cards as soon as possible.
Ministers say the HSE review of discretionary medical cards had "unintended consequences", with cards taken from people with long-term illness.
15,300 people will now have medical cards or 'GP visit' cards returned in the coming weeks.
The Taoiseach says the process caused a lot of stress to many people.
But Health Minister James Reilly says the previous government must also share the blame for the failures in the system.
The Cabinet has approved a plan which does not require a change in the law and can see cards returned in a matter of weeks.
A statement from the Department of Health says the government could not stand over the removal of cards from those with an acute medical condition, or a lifelong condition - including a disability.
The decision to return cards without changing the law follows intensive negotiations with the Attorney-General.
John O'Neil, whose son Cormac (12) has a rare and expensive illness to treat, told Newstalk Lunchtime they will not believe it until they see the card returned.
Earlier, Minister Reilly presented options on how best to return the discretionary medical cards to his cabinet colleagues.
Down Syndrome Ireland has been campaigning for the return of discretionary medical cards. Pat Clarke from the organisation told Newstalk Breakfast earlier he felt it could be done in a single step.