New Zealand's Labour Party Plays Health Card to Woo Grey Voters

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By Kalyan Kumar | August 12, 2014 2:22 PM EST

In a move to woo elder citizens, New Zealand's main opposition party-- Labour Party has come out with a big healthcare plan. Announcing the $120 million healthcare plan, on Sunday, party's top leader David Cunliffe said, nearly 40 percent of Kiwis -1.7 million people - will be eligible for free doctor visits and free prescriptions.

Reuters
Doctors react after Pope Francis cancelled his visit at the Gemelli hospital in Rome June 27, 2014. Pope Francis cancelled a visit to a Rome hospital at the last minute on Friday due to what the Vatican called a "sudden indisposition". The Vatican gave no immediate details about what, if anything, was ailing the 77-year-old Argentine pope, who has cancelled a number of engagements in the past few weeks due to minor health issues. The Vatican issued its statement at about the time the pope was to have arrived at Rome's Gemelli hospital to visit patients and say a Mass.

The Labour leader asserted that when people get sick their pying capacity should not be a barrier in getting good healthcare. That is why, Labour stands committed to reduce healthcare costs, across the board.

Under the health package, free doctor visits and prescriptions for almost 700,000 people, aged above 65 will be made available to the citizens. Those who are getting free primary health care, such as children and pregnant women, will also be provided with free GP visits and prescriptions. The cost of the plan is estimated to be $20m.

Care Plus

The package also provides for free dental care to 60,000 expectant mothers. The proposed expansion of the Care Plus will cover 4,40,000 patients, with a hundred percent increase.

The $90m Care Plus scheme will include free prescriptions, costing $30 million. It will also provide free doctor visits a year. The criteria to qualify for extended Care Plus will be worked out later.

David Cunliffe dismissed speculations about the affordability of healthcare policy and said the plan has adequate funding sources.

National Party Opinion

National Party dismissed the Health care plan as unaffordable, saying it was not as comprehensive as Labour was claiming it to be. Cunliffe made clear that in the Care Plus programme, people with long term health conditions will qualify for 4 free visits by doctors and also get free prescriptions.

Cunliffe explained that investing in effective public and primary healthcare was the best thing for the country, and it will give long term benefits.

In the campaign meeting at Auckand, Cunliffe made a scathing attack on the policies of the ruling National Party. He said if New Zealand was allowed to head in the direction it is going now, the day is not far when the rivers will be dirty; and assets will be sold including vast tracts of land. And people will end up becoming tenants in their own country.

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(Photo: Reuters / Giampiero Sposito)
Doctors react after Pope Francis cancelled his visit at the Gemelli hospital in Rome June 27, 2014. Pope Francis cancelled a visit to a Rome hospital at the last minute on Friday due to what the Vatican called a "sudden indisposition". The Vatican gave no immediate details about what, if anything, was ailing the 77-year-old Argentine pope, who has cancelled a number of engagements in the past few weeks due to minor health issues. The Vatican issued its statement at about the time the pope was to have arrived at Rome's Gemelli hospital to visit patients and say a Mass.
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