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Anderton: Primary Healthcare "Gone By Lunchtime"

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

10 September 2008 - National's hard-right agenda is peeking out through the lines of its draft health policy, Associate Minister of Health Jim Anderton said today.

Jim Anderton said the draft policy, a leaked copy of which was obtained by the Government, showed that cheaper doctors visits or medicines will only be kept in the primary health care strategy "in the short term".

"National has already expressed their preference to scrap the cap on GP's fees, saying it was a market, after all. National cannot be trusted on their promise to keep the primary health care strategy - it will be gone by lunchtime, should they be elected."

He said National's health policy placed more emphasis on the private sector to attempt to meet our health needs.

"This policy will subsidise and rely on the private sector, taking away funding from the public sector and lining the pockets of health insurers and pharmaceutical companies. They will systematically dismantle the public health system New Zealanders want."

Jim Anderton said that in contrast, the Labour-Progressive Government was committed to a public health system that people can trust, one that is there for them regardless of their ability to pay.

"We have kept primary healthcare subsidies universal, so that everyone is able to get cheaper doctors visits and cheaper prescription medicines. Kiwi families are saving about $500 a year because of that.

"We have invested in more frontline staff, building on the 4,000 additional nurses and 1,000 additional doctors since 1999.

"We continue to maintain and improve hospital buildings and campuses so they are better able to cope with high demand in the public health system. For example we have invested in the largest hospital building and redevelopment campaign in New Zealand's history."

Jim Anderton said the National party policy proposed tax rebates for those who can afford private health insurance, effectively locking in a two-tier health system where those who can afford private insurance are rewarded and everyone else gets left behind.

"Once again, this proposal came from the leaked National Party health policy. It's clear National are more interested in creating profit-making opportunities for the private sector than they are in providing quality public services for all New Zealanders.

"Tax rebates for those who have private health insurance will do nothing to improve our public health system.

"For a 70-year old, it costs over $30 a week to buy simple surgical cover for health insurance. That's surgery only - no GP, no dental. How many people on NZ Super can afford that?"

Jim Anderton said National's health policy subsidied the wealthiest New Zealanders, at the expense of the neediest and most vulnerable.

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