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Budget 2004: Vote Health soon to top $10 billion

Hon Annette King
Minister of Health

Vote Health soon to top $10 billion

Budget 2004 continues the three-year health funding path with an allocation of $550 million in 2006-07 which will take total health spending in that year to $10.7 billion.

Health Minister Annette King said the government's commitment to the sustainable Health Funding Package had already included increased funding of $400 million in 2002-03, $800 million in 2003-04, $1.2 billion in 2004-05 and $1.7 billion in 2005-06.

Total annual spending under Vote Health will reach $9.92 billion in 2004-05.

"New funding announced today brings to almost $2.3 billion the amount allocated to the Health Funding Package from 2002-03, when the package was established, through to 2006-07," Ms King said.

"That is a huge investment designed to provide fair, strong and sustainable public health services in New Zealand. Vote Health now accounts for about 20 per cent of all government spending."

The Primary Health Strategy component of the package had increased sharply - from $48 million in 2002-03 to $264 million in 2004-05, rising to $280 million in 2005-06.

"The vast majority of New Zealanders - 3.1 million - are now in Primary Health Organisations. From 1 July, $3 prescription fees will be extended to people over 65 enrolled in PHOs.

"We are also allocating $26 million to all PHOs through the new Care Plus initiative, catering to many older people with very poor health and those under 65 requiring high levels of care.

"Specific funding increases for 2004-05 include $150 million for demographic changes, and $53.5 million for the continued development of the $200 million Meningococcal Vaccine Programme," she said.

"We are in the final stages of the approval process for a vaccine. This government is determined to rid New Zealand of an epidemic that has killed or maimed many of our young people." Ms King said the government was embarking on the largest public hospital upgrade programme ever undertaken in New Zealand.

"The budget commits capital of $802 million to this purpose for use over the next four years. Most of the money has been allocated to projects in Auckland, Capital and Coast, Canterbury, Southland, Waikato, Thames, Kaitaia, Dunstan and Wairarapa but there is also provision for new hospitals at Tauranga and Horowhenua.

"We are committed to providing quality hospital facilities to complement our quality health professionals," she said.

"District Health Boards are now being funded at unprecedented levels, which does not mean there is no longer any need for some tough decisions. This government is taking a strategic approach to health, and that means establishing priorities for health spending. We are convinced that offers us the best chance of spending health money where it is needed most," Ms King said.

"DHBs now have certainty in planning their future services, and under the Population Funding Formula we are also close to providing funding on a fair basis across all our regions. That means all New Zealanders receive the level of health services they deserve."

ENDS

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