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Confusion Reigns Over Free Under 6 Health Policy

Confusion Reigns Over Free Under 6 Health Policy

Despite repeated assertions by the Labour Government that it would reduce the cost of going to the doctor, parents of children under six years old are now being forced to pay in some parts of New Zealand, the National Party says.

“I have had angry mums come to me asking what’s going on?,” Health spokeswoman Dr Lynda Scott says. “I believe they deserve an explanation.”

The Labour Government has continually asserted it is putting new money into Primary Health Organisations to reduce costs, but this is another example of the bureaucratic shambles that PHO’s are creating.

“PHO funding has six age groups – the first is 0 – 4 years old, so children aged five are in the 5 – 17 age bracket and could be charged anything up to $20 for treatment at interim funded practices,” Dr Scott says.

“Some PHO practices in Rotorua and Northland have begun charging $5 for under 6’s because they say they need to reflect their costs.”

In answers to written questions, the Minister of Health states: “The funding agreement between the Northland District Health Board and Manaia PHO states that Manaia practices will charge between $0 and $5 for under five year olds”.

In Blenheim some practices are charging 5-year olds because of Government funding shortfalls.

“Our scarce health dollars are being squandered on the ideological implementation of PHO’s and are failing to reach those mums and dads at the coalface," Dr Scott says.

“The Minister of Health must explain to these parents why some of them are now paying for a previously free service, and why Labour has broken its promises.”

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