New Zealand Medical Association chief executive Lesley
Clarke (left), Labour's David Clark (centre) and United
Future leader Peter Dunne at a medical conference in
Dunedin. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
The Greens would not give free GP visits to all
over-65-year-olds, as it believes in targeted assistance, Green
Party health spokesman Kevin Hague told a conference in Dunedin
Mr Hague took part in a political panel at the South GP CME
2014 general practice conference.
The Green Party disagrees with likely coalition partner
Labour, which has been criticised for promising universal
primary health care to older people, a group with lower
poverty levels than younger groups.
The Greens would give free primary care to those aged up to
18, after which targeted assistance would help those on lower
Those who could afford it should pay more towards their
health care, Mr Hague said.
The Greens would increase funding for primary and public
Those who claimed there was insufficient money should
consider the 2010 tax cuts, which cost $1.1 billion every
year, Mr Hague said.
Earlier, the panel got off to a disjointed start because of
the late arrival of Mr Hague and National health spokeswoman
and Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew, who were delayed on
the same flight.
At the start, just Labour's Dr David Clark, and United Future
leader and Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne took the
stage and Dunedin-based National List MP Michael Woodhouse
was observing in the audience.
Mr Woodhouse very briefly took the stage to fill in for his
absent colleague, who then arrived to take her place.
Labour would reduce the ''huge gap'' between the rich and the
poor, something Dr Clark felt was holding the country back.
''Governments of both stripes have not, in my view, addressed
By dropping ''expensive policies'' such as removing GST from
fruit and vegetables, Labour could afford measures such as
free primary health care for older people.
Labour was targeting younger people as well as older people,
he said when asked if it was fair for the older group to
receive free primary health care.
Mr Dunne said he wanted to see the country adopt an ACC-style
health insurance system, to cope with future cost pressures.
Mr Dunne said Labour's health spending promises were
Mrs Goodhew said the Government made no apology for pushing
health targets, which had driven success in areas such as
emergency department access and vaccinations.
Unlike many other countries, the Government had increased
health funding in the face of the financial crisis and its
A medical student in the audience asked about the fact
graduate medical students faced an uncertain job market,
while being in debt to the tune of $100,000.
In response, Mrs Goodhew said the medical jobs market had
become tighter, but the sector was working hard to ensure as
many positions were available as possible.
''It's a changing global situation around employment.''
• Labour also released its full health policy yesterday.
Under the policy, the focus would shift from ''narrow targets
and and short-term thinking'' towards public health and
prevention, health spokeswoman Annette King said.
Policy initiatives included a national bowel cancer screening
programme and a review of ambulance services.