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Lower prescription charges should be based on need

Dr Lynda Scott National Health Spokeswoman

31 March 2004

Lower prescription charges should be based on need not race

As of today only those few patients enrolled in a Primary Health Organisation will pay less for prescriptions, says National's Health spokeswoman Dr Lynda Scott.

She says only people enrolled in the Government's PHOs will qualify for the new reduced prescription charges, not those struggling in other areas.

Access PHOs are those with a population of more than 50% Maori or Pacific Islander or low socio-economic people. As of tomorrow children in PHO areas and those over 18 years living in an Access PHO area will pay only $3 per prescription.

"Labour's manipulation of the health funding formula is forcing patients to leave their doctors for ones in Access PHO areas", says Dr Scott.

"This trend will skew our health system. More and more patients in Wellington will start seeing doctors in Newtown and Porirua. Likewise in Auckland, more and more patients will see doctors in Mangere and Pakuranga.

"Reduced prescriptions costs should be based on a person's health needs and their income. Not whether you have signed up Labour's ideological way of delivering primary health care or whether you live in the right area or not.

"It is not right that the wealthy of Gisborne and Rotorua - which have fully funded Access PHOs because of high Maori populations - will pay only $3 per prescription, while low-income people living in other areas will pay more than three times that because of the Government's race-based funding.

"It is pharmacists who will be in the frontline from a confused public trying to work out prescription charges", says Dr Scott.


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