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Annette King welcomes 10 new PHOs

2 April 2004 Media Statement

Annette King welcomes 10 new PHOs and cheaper prescription charges

Health Minister Annette King says a new Primary Health Organisation (PHO) initiative means that almost one in three New Zealanders will now be able to get prescribed medicines for no more than $3 an item.

Ms King today also welcomed the establishment of 10 more PHOs, bringing the total to 68, covering more than 3 million people, or three out of four New Zealanders.

“The new prescription entitlement applies to all New Zealanders who are eligible for lower-cost consultations through PHOs. That means everyone enrolled in Access-funded PHOs – those targeting high-needs groups – and all 6-17-year-old enrollees in all PHOs. From July 1 all New Zealanders aged 65 and over enrolled in any PHO will also be eligible for the reduced prescription charge.

“This reduction, from a maximum of $15 per prescription item to no more than $3 each, will be an important saving for many New Zealanders,’’ Ms King says.

“This Government strongly believes in providing fair and affordable access for all New Zealanders to primary health care, and we are moving toward that goal far faster than anticipated.

“Already more than one million New Zealanders can get reduced or low-cost fees when they visit their PHO. From yesterday, as long as their medicine is fully subsidised by the Government and they present prescriptions from their PHO practice, these people will also be able to get cheaper medicines.’’

The 10 new PHOs include the country’s largest, Partnership Health Canterbury, covering Christchurch city and with about 334,700 people enrolled.

Ms King says rapid progress has been made in the development of PHOs nationally, with more than three million New Zealanders now covered by the PHOs around the country. “Every District Health Board now has at least one PHO. I think this is a huge achievement for the health sector and the communities represented by the PHOs.
“I’m also very pleased to see in this latest wave of PHO establishment that there are six new PHOs in the South Island, including the very first one for Southland. Many of them will be funded under the Interim formula, which means that all under-18s enrolled with them will be eligible for lower-cost fees. From July 1, those aged 65 years and over will also get these benefits. So not only are we targeting high needs areas with Access funding, but we are also making sure that young and older New Zealanders can benefit as well.’’

Ms King says the Primary Health Care Strategy and the PHOs spearheading it have an important role in helping reduce health inequalities and improve the overall health of all New Zealanders.

“PHOs are not just about making primary health care more affordable. They have a public health focus, are intended to involve a whole team of health professionals, offering a variety of services, and are charged with providing continuity of care for their enrolled populations.’’

ENDS

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