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Does National support scrapping cheap visits?

21 June 2006 Media Statement

Does National still support scrapping cheap visits?

Health Minister Pete Hodgson has called on the National Party to clarify their position on the Primary Health Care Strategy in light of yesterday's agreement ensuring the full rollout of universal access to affordable primary care.

National's health policy calls for the scrapping of universal cheaper doctors visits and low cost prescription drugs for people in the 25-64 age group – nearly 1.7 million New Zealanders.

Cutting the primary health budget in this way would have made over $500 million available over four years towards the cost of National's tax cut policy.

"Making it easier and cheaper to see the doctor and get the medicines people need has been the central achievement of Labour's health policy," Pete Hodgson said.

"Yesterday's agreement between Primary Health Organisations and District Health Boards means that the Primary Health Care Strategy is future proofed and here to stay.

"We heard a lot from National when they thought there was a chance the rollout wouldn't proceed as planned, but they've been silent since yesterday's announcement.

"It is time for Don Brash and Tony Ryall to clarify where they stand on the future of primary health care in New Zealand.

"Do they still support raising the cost of doctors visits and prescription drugs to pay for tax cuts? Or will they officially change their policy now that the Primary Health Care Strategy has been future proofed and universal affordable access has been guaranteed?

"This is a major issue – the public have a right to know where National stands."

ENDS

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