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King Backtracks; PHOs Flounder

King Backtracks; PHOs Flounder

Wednesday 3 Sep 2003 Heather Roy Press Releases -- Health

Health Minster Annette King today refused to stand by her past assurances that the cost of prescription medications to the country's poorest patients - all of those enrolled in access Primary Healthcare Organisations - will drop from $15-$3 per prescription on October 1, ACT New Zealand Health Spokesman Heather Roy said today.

"Ms King has trumpeted, loud and often, that these charges will drop to the advantage of those enrolled in access PHOs - but, when asked today in Parliament, she refused to confirm that this is still her plan," Mrs Roy said.

"Instead, she tried to fudge the answer, saying she would soon take a `package of measures' to Cabinet, and a decision would be made `in the near future'. Further, the Health Ministry refuses to answer questions about when these new charges will be introduced, or about their programme to support the changes.

"There is also no evidence of a timetable for the pharmacy computer system changes required to facilitate the Minister's plan. Clearly, no timeline or decisions have actually been made about completion of this project - despite the Minister's earlier assurance.

"This indicates a growing problem with the funding of PHOs. Many groups are voicing their concerns about the financial viability of some PHOs. In true Labour style, the losers in this will be the patients, who have been promised cheaper pharmaceuticals and medicines on October 1, but will not receive them.

"If PHOs are in trouble, the Minister must come clean for the sake of New Zealand patients - rather than dancing around the issue and avoiding questions in Parliament. Burying her head in the sand will do nothing for New Zealand health," 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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