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Happy New Year – and here’s the bill, says the Government

Maryan STREET
Health Spokesperson

1 January 2013MEDIA STATEMENT

Happy New Year – and here’s the bill, says the Government

The Government’s New Year ‘gift’ to Kiwis – the first prescription fee hike in 20 years – kicks in today, placing more financial stress on those who can least afford it, Labour’s Health spokesperson Maryan Street says.

“A $2 rise might not sound a lot, but to people on low incomes – single parents, families struggling on the minimum wage - it will have a significant impact.

“Tony Ryall, of course, is quick to point out that the charge is capped to a maximum 20 items per family. What he fails to acknowledge is that while he might be able to afford $100 a year on his salary - as I can - the effect of a 66 per cent increase on those with little money just adds to their burden.

“A recent report revealed many people do not realise that they can get medicines free after they reach that 20 item threshold, so many poorer, chronically ill people are unknowingly paying far more than they should be. This increase to $5 an item will see them paying even more.

“We also know that cost prevents people picking up their prescriptions – in the last year around 267,000 adults said they didn’t get a script filled because of the (then) $3 charge. That in turn means some health problems are going untreated, resulting in higher costs to everybody down the track and undoubtedly a factor in the extra 4000 children admitted to hospital this year compared to last.

“This is a false economy and Tony Ryall should rethink it. At the least he should hold off until pharmacists have access to a universal IT system which allows people to check how many items they have picked up during the course of a year.

“At present there is no way of knowing that, especially when different pharmacies are used.

“Dumping this price rise in the middle of the holiday season and at the start of a new year is a pretty cynical move by a Government hell bent on getting as much money out of families as it can, in order to offset its own deficit,” said Maryan Street.

ENDS

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