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Health Minister’s PHOs Fail Over 65s

Media Release
08 February 2005

Health Minister’s PHOs Fail Over 65s

New Zealand First health spokesperson Barbara Stewart says the Health Minister must face the reality that her ill-conceived PHO model is not delivering cheaper healthcare for over 65s in all locations.

Mrs Stewart was responding to media reports, which confirmed anecdotal evidence she had been receiving that seniors were being charged at different rates according to their locations.

“Despite an increased subsidy the cost of a GP visit for seniors can vary from a free visit in some locations to $30 and more in others,” said Mrs Stewart.

“The Minister has created the system which allows this inequality to occur and she must now fix it.

“The incentives are all wrong within PHOs for them to work effectively. GPs are in effect private businesses and operate to make a profit. They are not public servants who will work for stipulated salaries.

“So whatever the government’s subsidy to PHO’s, GPs profits will always come before patient costs. It is a flawed model.

“We have also witnessed other unforeseen side effects from this unsound PHO model such as emergency care services sacrificed because they are not profitable and patients being turned away because GPs are only willing to service those already on their rolls. Many have no desire for new patients.

“It is time for the Minister to stop passing the buck and fix this malfunctioning system she created,” said Mrs Stewart.

ENDS

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