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Budget 2003: lower cost of primary health care

Budget 2003: further moves to lower cost of primary health care

The NZMA welcomes the Government’s announcement of a $19.8 million funding initiative that will allow all Primary Health Organisations (PHOs) to charge low fees for patients under 18 years from 1 October.

‘We are delighted to see more new money from the Government which will improve access to care for patients under 18 this year,’ says NZMA chairman Dr Tricia Briscoe. ‘We are still concerned, however, that the distribution of the Government’s new primary care funding is causing further inequities because of the long roll-out period. Although more than 700,000 New Zealanders are already enrolled in low cost access PHOs, there are many more equally in need of financial assistance who are not eligible for it.’

Dr Briscoe is also concerned that this funding arrives at a time when GPs are concerned that they will not have the right to charge a reasonable fee for service, but will be locked into providing service at a fee determined by Government.

‘The viability of many practices will be at risk if doctors must work in an environment where their fees are controlled,’ she says.

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