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City Voice Forum Report: Health boards or market?

VOTERS at the latest City Voice election forum on 21 Oct were offered the options of choosing their health care through elected boards or choosing through the market.

Labour, Alliance and Green candidates all advocated district health boards.

The Alliance favoured totally elected boards; Labour and the Greens partially elected ones.

But Stephen Franks (Act) said people should be able to choose between competing health providers in the market.

Labour’s Marian Hobbs told the 80 people present that district boards would be “like area health boards”, which National scrapped in the early 1990s.

“They will get funded on a weighted population-based formula, and they will have to plan,” said Hobbs. They would be elected at the local body elections.

Green list candidate Sue Kedgley agreed – although, like Hobbs, she said some board members should still be appointed rather than elected.

Stephen Franks went further, saying: “I keep being reminded that Hitler was elected in a democratic landslide.

“The people who look fondly at democratic processes never think that there are 470 local body politicians in Auckland,” he said. “If you are going to hold another set of elections alongside those, it relies on the press to scrutinise them – you are trying to expect that these democratically elected people will perform! “If the system is configured to provide a range of providers and other means of providing, and the boards are simply going to govern the non-catastrophic state service, that’s people’s choice.

“The real issue is how funding and spending decisions are made, whether people have an influence in the way their health dollars are spent.

“Helen Clark had to dismiss the Auckland Area Health Board that her husband was on. I can’t imagine that ideological fantasies about democracy are going to be any better this time.”

- first published Wellington’s inner city newspaper City Voice in the latest edition out today…

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