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More Good News for the Primary Health Sector


Hon David Cunliffe
Minister of Health

6 July 2008 Media Statement

More Good News for the Primary Health Sector

The Minister of Health David Cunliffe has today announced a further investment of $390,000 into the primary health care sector aimed at almost 800 GP practices that charge very low fees.

“This funding addresses a gap between current funding and cost increases faced by general practices and allows them to continue to provide very low fees and free services for under sixes under the Very Low Cost Access scheme and zero fees for the Under Sixes schemes.”

"Providing free or very low cost access to primary health care is essential to improving the baseline health of all New Zealanders, along with reducing inequalities and ensuring children have access to free healthcare early in life," said David Cunliffe.

The increased funding allows the GP practices to absorb the increased costs they face, estimated at 4.1 percent for services provided to patients aged six and over, and a cost increase of 3.7 percent for under sixes. The funding increase comes into effect today and means that the low fees charged by the practices can continue unchanged.


Background

The VLCA (the Very Low Coast Access Scheme) was introduced in October 2006 to support, encourage and reward primary health organisations (PHOs) and their practices to deliver very low cost access to primary health care to reduce health inequalities. The scheme recognises that to do this the practices forgo revenue from patient fees. To be eligible for the VLCA payment, practices commit to reducing their fees for standard consultations to the following thresholds:
• $0 for children under six years of age
• $10.50 for children aged 6-17 years;
• $16.00 for adults aged 18 and over


As at 1 April 2008, over 300 GP practices around New Zealand had joined the VLCA scheme.

The Zero Fees for Under Sixes was introduced in January 2008 to support free primary health care for children under 6 years of age. To be eligible for the Zero Fees for Under Sixes payment , general practices committed to providing free standard consultations to children under six years of age.


ENDS

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