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Minister of Illness Misses the Mark

Maryan STREET

Health Spokesperson

14 May 2012

MEDIA STATEMENT

Minister of Illness Misses the Mark

Increasing prescription prices to subsidise other health services punishes the wrong people, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Maryan Street.

“The Government’s announcement today to increase prescription subsidies from $3 to $5 shifts the burden of balancing the Government’s health budget to our most vulnerable.

“What Tony Ryall is doing is asking low and middle income New Zealanders, who already struggle to meet their basic needs, to cough up more cash at the counter to subsidise treatment for others.

“That’s not fair,” Maryan Street said.

“The last time prescriptions were raised was under Jenny Shipley when charges soared to $15 an item. This time around, and off the back of a stagnant economy, a small increase will mean that some families will face impossible decisions.

“Will people prioritise their heart medication, or their asthma medication? Will parents put off getting their own medication in order to afford their children's? The dilemma will only see health problems worsen.

“This is a bizarre money-go-round, where everyone is left short-changed.

“The announcement glosses over the fact that if the government put aside more funding for preventative programmes, fewer New Zealanders would need on-going health care.

“This is ambulance at the bottom of the cliff stuff - he might as well call himself the Minster of Illness, not the Minister of Health.

“Ryall’s other announcement, to provide $101 million for more elective operations, scans, and improved cancer services, makes for good press, but ignores the most cost-effective treatment – prevention,” Maryan Street said.

ENDS

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