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National signals sensible middle path for health

6 September 2005

Don Brash MP National Party Leader

National signals sensible middle path for health

A National Government will improve the efficiency of the struggling health system, restore accountability so taxpayers know they are getting value for money, and take a sensible middle path on health funding, National Party Leader Don Brash said today in announcing National's health policy in New Plymouth.

"National will focus attention and health funding on the most vulnerable in our society, taking a sensible middle path between a fully universal and a fully targeted primary healthcare system," Dr Brash said.

"National's most immediate priorities in health are the package of moves announced today."

National will:

* Remove the uncertainty around negotiating an inflation adjustment in Aged Care funding with the 21 DHBs. National will ensure the inflation adjustment is passed on to Aged Care providers in a timely way. This will have an initial annual cost of around $24 million, exclusive of GST. National will also commit a further $35 million per year into the Aged Residential Care contract from April 1, 2006 as a second step towards redressing Labour's severe underfunding. National has already committed $19 million per annum to fund homecare workers' travel costs.

* Commit an additional one-off $100 million three-year package to slash elective surgery waiting lists. The funding will come from the additional $1 billion in revenue projected in the Pre-Election Economic and Fiscal Update and will be contestable between the public and private sectors.

* Boost funding to Pharmac by $75 million over the next three years to expand the availability of new drugs. National will also undertake a review of New Zealand's pharmaceutical policy.

* Retain the PHO system, but step back from the fully universal subsidy system introduced by Labour. National will retain universal doctor visit and prescription subsidies for those under 25 and those 65 and over. But universal subsidies for the rest of the working population will not be rolled out. Of the approximately $180 million annually saved by 2007/08, around $70 million will be returned through increased subsidies to the genuinely needy.

The Community Services Card will be replaced by a new Health Card, with simplified administration, higher qualifying income thresholds, and a boost in the value of the subsidy to $30 per doctor's visit.

"The rest of the approximately $180 million annual savings made from not rolling out universal subsidies by 2007/08 will be spent on expanding the range of subsidised pharmaceuticals, on improved funding of aged care facilities, and on a range of child health, health promotion and disease prevention measures to be announced very shortly," Dr Brash said.


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