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New Zealand Patients First, Minister

New Zealand Patients First, Minister

Thursday 28 Aug 2003 Heather Roy Press Releases -- Health

ACT New Zealand Health Spokesman Heather Roy today accused Health Minister Annette King of giving non-residents free healthcare at the expense of hard-working New Zealand taxpayers, in light of reports that foreign mothers are coming to New Zealand to give birth.

"It is completely unacceptable that the Minister allows around 1,300 non-residents to receive free healthcare while they give birth - especially when around 500 of these women are from countries that do not have reciprocal health arrangements with New Zealand," Mrs Roy said.

"And this is only the tip of the iceberg - it is not just expectant mothers who get a free ride. Foreign students receive free medical care, pharmaceuticals and counselling and, just recently, we have seen high-profile cases where non-residents have received free care to which they are not entitled.

"Hospital beds cost around $1,000 a day - a bill footed by the taxpayer. It is completely outrageous that, while non-residents use these beds free of charge, the very hard-working taxpayers who fund our health system are being sent home to die on waiting lists for chemotherapy, cancer surgery and heart surgery.

"This is just another flaw in a health system that is failing New Zealanders at every turn. The Minister has no other option but to address this loophole immediately. ACT would not allow any non-resident into the country without private health insurance.

"I am calling on Ms King to front up. To pretend she was unaware of this problem is a huge cop-out. It is time she started doing her job - she must ensure that Kiwi patients do not miss out for non-residents looking for a free ride," Mrs Roy said.

ENDS

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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