New Zealand Labour Party

Charges up for some as funding up for grabs

A proposal being considered by the Government would see some people having to pay more for health care and district health boards forced to fight amongst themselves to fund regional health services, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says

“Information leaked to Labour shows the Government is looking to cap how much people on low incomes have to pay for doctors’ visits, while allowing GPs to charge others more.

“There’s no doubt this would benefit many people. On the other hand it would depend on who was considered to be ‘better off’. If the Community Services Card is used as a criteria, a ‘wealthy’ person would be someone earning a dollar more than the cut off.

The plan is outlined in a report from the Ministry of Health which reveals a centralisation of the public health sector is on the cards.

“Another proposal is to make funding contestable, with boards having to bid alongside private organisations for their annual budgets.

“That has major implications for DHBs who need certainty around funding for workforce and capability planning – it is crucial if they are to continue to provide the quality services Kiwis have come to expect.

“A strong health sector is one that is collaborative, co-operative and works together. This review turns that ideal on its head. It allows for manipulation and string-pulling and will only lead to more fragmentation and disharmony.

“Health Minister Jonathan Coleman said yesterday he hadn’t read the previous report. Let’s hope he has read this one.”