Cheaper GP vis­its for more NZers

Manawatu Guardian - - FROM THE BEEHIVE - By IAIN LEES-GAL­LOWAY MP for Palmer­ston North (Labour)

Be­fore the last elec­tion, more than half a mil­lion New Zealan­ders a year avoided go­ing to the GP be­cause of cost. In a coun­try like ours, that just wasn’t good enough.

That’s why, over the past year, our Gov­ern­ment has been work­ing hard to en­sure ev­ery­one can ac­cess the health­care they need, when they need it.

A big part of this is mak­ing it eas­ier for more New Zealan­ders to visit their doc­tor.

From De­cem­ber 1, we’re cut­ting the cost of vis­it­ing the doc­tor for nearly 600,000 New Zealan­ders.

We’ve made doc­tors’ vis­its around $20 to $30 cheaper for all Com­mu­nity Ser­vices Card hold­ers, and we’ve ex­panded ac­cess to the card as well. That means around 540,000 peo­ple can get ac­cess to cheaper doc­tor’s vis­its.

We’ve also ex­tended free doc­tors’ vis­its to all chil­dren un­der the age of 14, mean­ing a fur­ther 56,000 young New Zealan­ders will be el­i­gi­ble for free GP vis­its and pre­scrip­tions.

That’s great news for fam­i­lies here in Palmer­ston North.

This mat­ters for all New Zealan­ders. By mak­ing it eas­ier for peo­ple to visit their GP, we’re help­ing ease the strain on hos­pi­tal emer­gency depart­ments, leav­ing them to fo­cus on crit­i­cal care, and saving tax­pay­ers money in the long run.

I’m re­ally proud of this pol­icy, be­cause I know the dif­fer­ence it will make for thou­sands of peo­ple here in Palmer­ston North. The most vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple to ill­ness sim­ply can’t af­ford to take time off work. That’s the strug­gle I heard so of­ten since I be­came your MP in 2008.

Now that we’re in Gov­ern­ment, we’re seiz­ing the op­por­tu­nity to make things right in our health sys­tem. Af­ter a decade of un­der­fund­ing and ne­glect, our health sys­tem has been left in need of se­ri­ous in­vest­ment. That’s why we’ve made re­build­ing our health sys­tem a pri­or­ity.

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