Teenagers would get free GP visits and prescriptions
under a Green Government, co-leader Metiria Turei revealed this
The new policy would mean that every New Zealander under 18
years of age would get fully funded healthcare, following a
promise by National in the Budget to expand free visits from
under-six year-olds to under-13 year-olds.
The new policy was unveiled at the party's annual conference
in Lower Hutt this morning,
Mrs Turei said the Greens want to invest $29 million a year
in targeting 13 to 17-year-olds to help them access
healthcare "at a crucial time in their lives".
"No child should ever be prevented from going to their GP
because of the cost, even if they're a teenager," she told an
audience of around 200 people.
"Just this week Bill English told a conference that he had
agreed to the free doctors' visits for kids in the budget
because it was cheap. 'Kids that age don't go to the doctor
anyway', he said.
"Well, teenagers do get sick. In fact, they have complicated
needs, like mental illness, and sexual health issues, which
can damage them forever if left untreated."
The policy was designed to reduce hospital admissions,
prevent unwanted pregnancies, detect and treat mental
illness, and take the pressure off parents at a stressful
time in a child's life.
"It's bloody hard being a teenager, no matter where you live
or who your parents are. And it's bloody hard for their
parents too," Mrs Turei said.
A policy paper noted that consultation fees could be up to
$56 for teenagers.
The Healthy Teens, Healthy Futures scheme would allocate $21
million a year to extend free GP visits to 290,000 teenagers
and abolish prescription charges.
A further $8 million would go towards helping GPs manage the
extra workload. GPs could opt out of the scheme if they did
not think the subsidies would cover their costs.
The policy also included a commitment to negotiating with
district health boards and private clinics to ensure
after-hours visits were free for all children under 18.
In a speech that was mostly focused on children, Mrs Turei
also took a shot at the National Government's environmental
credentials, saying they were trashing the Resource
Management Act and poisoning New Zealand's rivers.
She said New Zealanders faced a stark choice at the September
"Voters can choose National and its Cabinet Clubs, Charter
Schools and crazy hangers on, and we will all watch while a
tiny few get rich as a result.
"Or we can have a truly progressive government committed to
giving everyone a fair go."
Co-leader Russel Norman will speak tomorrow, when he is
expected to launch the party's climate change policy.
- By Isaac Davison of the New Zealand Herald