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Petition To Remove Prescription Charges For Community Service Card Holders

United Community Action Network New Zealand (UCANNZ) and Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) have launched a petition to remove prescription charges for low-income households.

These households are currently experiencing significant hardship. For many, medical costs continue to be a significant barrier to care, and a driver for inequitable health outcomes. That means many low-income people reliant on important medications suffer disproportionately poorer health.

Professor Nikki Turner, CPAG health spokesperson says, "The five dollar cost per item to a maximum of 20 items in any one year is just too much for people on low incomes who need these medications regularly. Without regular treatment for chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart conditions and mental health conditions, there can be disastrous outcomes making life difficult for the individual, their families and, often also, their community.

"This cost barrier can create the likelihood of more serious acute and secondary care for those in our community who are in greatest need. We need to remove the five dollar fee."

The pharmacy charge is a barrier for those who rely on full-service community pharmacies. Some large commercial organisations use their private resources to waive the prescription fee. This is not feasible for many community pharmacies. It needs to be equitable across all outlets to ensure those who need local support can access it.

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While Community Service Card holders receive the subsidy through other payments distributed through the year, the Welfare Expert Advisory Group confirmed that households already make serious trade-offs for essential items every week. Hence the need to get rid of the five dollar fee to ensure low-income families can access their medications.

This problem can be rectified by amending the Health Entitlement Cards Regulations 1993 which is part of the petition.

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