Hon David Cunliffe
Minister of Health
23 October 2008 Media Statement
New Zealanders to pay more for medicines under National?
Once again a National Party health document gives New Zealanders greater insight into its plans by what it omits than what it says.
Minister of Health David Cunliffe said he noted nowhere in National’s medicine policy does it promise to keep the majority of prescriptions at just $3, bringing back memories of their failure last year to mention their plan to remove GP fee reviews, something that would have allowed GP fees to sky rocket.
“Their policy would have no benefit to the majority of New Zealanders and would potentially cost people a great deal.”
Mr Cunliffe said over last two years alone Pharmac had recorded increases in the number of prescriptions being filled of 11.9 percent in 2006/2007 and 7 percent in 2007/2008 largely due to a Primary Health Care strategy that had made GP visits and medications affordable.
Pharmac also increased spending on drugs by $35 million over the past year.
“National wants, according to its policy, to take money from the current health budget and increase Pharmac spending? So just where are they getting the money from?
“Given their medicine strategy fails to make any mention of keeping prescriptions to just $3 I guess we can assume they are planning to reduce subsidies for individuals and pass them on to big business in the form of drug companies.”
Mr Cunliffe said the National Party policy was big on rhetoric but failed to address New Zealand’s real health needs.
“The Labour-led Governments comprehensive Primary Health Care Strategy means that people can access more medicines than ever before, because of cheaper doctors visits and prescriptions.
“You simply can’t bandy about an ad-hoc medicines strategy that takes no account of primary health care – its ludicrous and shows a lack of understanding of how the health service really works.”
“The National Party have through their omission on $3 prescriptions made it clear they are stuck in the 1990’s mentality of users pays before health care.”