INDEPENDENT NEWS

Healthcare Eligibility Changes Unacceptable

Published: Tue 24 Apr 2001 11:50 AM
Healthcare Eligibility Changes Unacceptable - Greens
Green Party Social Services Spokesperson Sue Bradford today said Government moves to offer cheaper healthcare to beneficiaries but not to low income workers was unfair and unacceptable.
Under changes announced by the Government yesterday, up to 50,000 low-income workers will now no longer qualify for a Community Services Card even though beneficiaries, including superannuitants, on the same income will still qualify for cheap healthcare.
"This move appears to be very poorly thought out," said Ms Bradford. "I am amazed that a Labour / Alliance Government would so blatantly discriminate against low income workers and the Greens will be seeking an urgent meeting with the Prime Minister to discuss our concerns."
Ms Bradford said the move was a serious financial disincentive for people wanting to get back into work and increased the poverty trap that many people found themselves in when moving off a benefit into low-paid work.
"If people do not have enough money to provide the basics, such as health care, then they should qualify for assistance from the State. It is unfair and wrong for the Government to say to two poor people on exactly the same income that one will get help and one will not, on a totally arbitrary basis."
"The bottom line is that there are tens of thousands of New Zealanders working every day for very low wages who cannot afford to go to the doctor or to buy medicines. This Government has turned its back on these people and made them immediately worse off in the process."
Ms Bradford said she had never supported the Community Services Card and that she backed the Health Minister's plans to review it.
"Until this happens the Greens support adjusting the income threshold for community service cards to take into account the rise in the cost of living, but this must be applied fairly and across the board to all people who are affected," she said.
"The Government's budget is under extreme pressure as a result of the decision to set aside $600 million to pre-fund superannuation. The fact that they now cannot afford a mere $14 million to keep health subsidies fair and equitable is one of the consequences of this allocation."
Ends

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