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Case Shows Cancer Reimbursement Unfair

The Government's arbitrary decision to only reimburse costs for those cancer patients who started treatment in Australia on or after September 6, is proving unfair with some cancer patients missing out, National's Health spokesperson Roger Sowry said today.

"Yesterday in Parliament I mentioned a patient who left New Zealand in November and began her treatment on November 13 in Australia. Her family has been told by the Waikato District Health Board that it can't reimburse her and its hands are tied because she began treatment after November 6.

"Despite its promises the Government is not giving district health boards defined criteria for its ad hoc reimbursement scheme.

"It seems to be the case of only those who shout the longest and loudest are eligible for reimbursement for treatment in Australia. That means if you don't contact the media or the Opposition Health spokesperson you won't get reimbursed for treatment.

"This is not fair to cancer patients and their families who are already suffering and under stress. It is simply unjust.

"The cancer patient I referred to in Parliament has been told she could not be reimbursed because she was not a district health board referral. She was not a referral because she organised her treatment before the Government decided to fund radiation treatment in Australia.

"Speaking on behalf of the Minister of Health Dr Cullen asked me to refer the case to the Health Minister's office. I am very concerned that there are other patients out there who are not being reimbursed, and are not being treated fairly because they are not complaining.

"I have written to the Minster today asking that the Minister reimburse this patient's travel and radiation treatment costs, and I am inviting other patients needing help to contact me," Mr Sowry said.


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