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Stop Dreaming And Get Priorities Right King

Health Minister Annette King is dreaming if she thinks she can find $350 million a year to move to a fully funded population-based primary health system, National's Health spokesman Roger Sowry said today.

"The Minister gets turned down for $14 million to correct the inequity in community service card eligibility and now she thinks she can raise between $350-400 million a week later to fully fund general practitioner visits, and start funding that within a year.

"And she is saying this at the same time that hospitals around the country are going into deficit because she has failed to fund them. Hutt Valley Health, the West Coast District Health Board, Lakeland Health and Southern Health are all in financial trouble but the Minister has been inept at addressing that issue.

"On top of this we've now got the Prime Minister talking about a new health tax to part fund public health. The track record of this Government putting money towards health is shocking.

"The health system has seen very little of the last extra tax this Government introduced, described by Annette King as 'money we need to spend on health and other social initiatives'. Public health is seeing very little of that 14 percent increase on tobacco tax set to raise $290 million over four years - the Government has committed $20 million of it to reducing smoking among Maori.

"This Government's first priority must be to fund low income families who are missing out on using community service cards. It is unfair that these working people pay hundreds of dollars more a year on health care than beneficiaries on the same income.

"The Prime Minister is trying to distract the public from the community service card inequity by proposing a new health tax. She should start by allowing more of the tobacco tax, mainly funded by working families, to go towards health," Mr Sowry said.


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