Labour will invest in our families’ health by boosting funding for GP practices and cutting fees so people can afford to visit the doctor when they need to, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern.
“Our families’ health is our greatest treasure but it’s becoming more difficult for many people to afford to see the doctor. Chronic underfunding has seen fees rise rapidly. Half a million New Zealanders did not visit the doctor last year when they were sick due to cost. That’s not acceptable in New Zealand.
“Labour’s plan for cheaper doctors’ visits will mean people can get the care they need, when they need it. Investing in primary care helps to avoid health problems worsening to the point where they need expensive hospital treatment.
“Labour’s investment in GP practices will reduce doctors’ fees by $10 a visit. Half of all New Zealanders will have free visits or fees of less than $8.
“This will apply to people enrolled in both Very Low Cost Access practices and other practices. We will cut fees for New Zealanders across the board, rather than narrowly targeting one group.
“New Zealanders who are enrolled at Very Low Cost Access practices or are Community Service Card holders will see their maximum fee cut from $18 to $8 for adults and from $12 to $2 for teens, while under 13s remain free. As part of this, the Community Services Card will be extended to a further 350,000 New Zealanders.
“Adults and teens at non-VLCA practices will get a $10 reduction in their fee if their practice chooses to take up the extra funding offer, while under 13s remain free. The average adults’ doctor fee at non-VLCA practices will be cut from $42 to $32.
“GP practices will also get a further $46m over and above the funding to reduce fees, a 5 per cent increase on current funding. This will reflect the cost pressures they face and allow for extra demand. With the growing need for more GPs, Labour will also invest $30m over three years to boost the number of GP training places to 300 a year.
“This initiative will cut fees for New Zealanders while we undertake a full review of the primary care system aimed at better targeting subsidies, ensuring practices’ financial sustainability, and reducing other barriers to access. This review will keep zero fees for under 13s and look to further lower fees for others.
“Funding for this policy comes from the $8b of increased investment in health that Labour has pledged to make over the next four years.
“Investing in our families’ health is plain common sense. It’ll make sure people get treatment earlier and reduce the burden on our hospitals. Let’s do this,” says Jacinda Ardern.