The Alliance Party says that New Zealanders are not naive enough to think that National’s increased prescription charges are necessary to fund increased spending on cancer services.
“That is just a false, misleading assumption that the Government would like us to make. The rational arguments, though, do not stack up. Raising prescription charges just makes it more likely that people will not visit their doctor or get their prescriptions filled. Furthermore, many people who are on medication will have cancer or cancer-related conditions. So, the Alliance’s question to Tony Ryall is: exactly how will raising prescription charges both fund cancer services and save the country money?” says Co-Leader Kay Murray.
The Alliance believes that it would make much more financial sense to introduce free healthcare, funded through progressive taxation, across the board.
“If everyone visited their GPs and got their prescriptions filled in the early stages of illnesses, it would mean far fewer people presenting at hospitals with serious conditions needing expensive treatment. Even cancer is easier to treat and outcomes are better if it is picked up in the very early stages. But this will only happen for everyone if there is no cost involved. This means no GP charges, no prescription charges, no hospital charges, and no charges for other health-related services whatsoever.”
Ms Murray believes that it is time to look at the big picture, to think of the common good.
“Aside from the humanitarian aspect, healthier people are more productive and better able to contribute to their communities. Free healthcare for everyone is not exactly a radical idea as the British will tell you with their National Health Service. Indeed, access to healthcare is a basic human right. And the Alliance, if given the opportunity to return to Parliament in 2014, will push for this to become a reality for the first time in New Zealand’s history. But if National wants to break out of its ideological straitjacket and begin this process, they will have our full support. We doubt that they will, though, and that’s why we will be the only party continuing to push for free healthcare provision in this country,” said Ms Murray.