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National endorses charging for cancer treatment

12 April 2006

National endorses part charging for cancer treatment

Health Minister Pete Hodgson has today thanked the National Party for finally coming clean on their support for a two-tiered health system.

"Part charging for secondary health treatment was a key plank of National's plan to Americanise the health system in the 1990s," Pete Hodgson said. "The idea was so unpopular that it cost then Health Minister Simon Upton his job.

"National has tried to keep it's policy detail quiet, but have finally come clean today by advocating for public hospitals to administer Herceptin treatments for those women who can afford to pay for the drug themselves.

"National is now back on the record supporting a two-tiered health system – one for those who can afford treatment and another for those who need to rely on the government to cover the full cost of their care.

"I will not support any move to cover costs associated with Herceptin for just some patients – either PHARMAC and DHBs will agree to fund Herceptin for all New Zealanders or the public health system will not cover the drug at all.

"I know these are sensitive issues and I know that many women are facing major costs to access Herceptin treatment, but I cannot allow the public health system to move away from its basic foundations of fairness and equity.

"New Zealand is the first country in the world to have licensed Herceptin for early stage breast cancer. PHARMAC is working hard to move negotiations along quickly so that all women with breast cancer can have certainty about the government's intentions.

"In the mean time, I am glad that the National Party is finally willing to have a real debate on health policy. I welcome it and I look forward to reminding New Zealanders what is at stake if we head down the road of Americanisation once again."

ENDS

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