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Primary health care funding roll out

Media release

Nearly 700,000 more New Zealanders will soon have access to cheaper doctor visits with $110 million in new money being pumped into primary care by the Government.

The new funding, which is part of the Government's $2.2 billion investment in primary care, is targeted at people aged between 45 and 64. It will be available to Interim Primary Health Organisations (PHOs) from July 1.

Negotiations over the new funding have been underway between DHBs and PHOs since March.

DHBs spokesman Chris Clarke said for many people between 45 and 64 years it would mean a reduction of up to $27 in the cost of a doctor's visit.

"This is another step in the Government's plan to make primary health care more affordable and accessible for all New Zealanders - a vital part of improving peoples health in coming years.”

In order to receive the new money PHOs will have to meet new conditions that ensure greater accountability for the use of public money. This will include making information about practice fees easily available to the public and an independent process that reviews subsequent increases to ensure they are fair and reasonable.

Mr Clarke said the new funding arrangement was not about setting or capping general practice fees. Fees would continue to vary from practice to practice as they always had.

"It's about ensuring easy access to fees information for the public and ensuring the benefits to patients are sustained over time. It’s a question of accountability for public money,’’ he said.

A meeting to finalise agreement to the new funding arrangements will be held on May 30. PHOs must then sign up to the new arrangements in order to offer 45-64-year-olds lower fees from July 1.

ENDS

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