September 5, 2008

Board Seeks to Close Medicine Loophole


A BUREAUCRATIC loophole has meant about 1700 people in Taranaki are missing out on the Government's cut-price extension for all subsidised medicines.

On Monday, the Government extended the $3 rate to all subsidised medications which would now include those from hospitals and after hours medical and emergency centres.

But the Taranaki District Health Board says they have spotted a loophole in the new subsidy which means that the patients of GPs who are not members of a primary health organisation will not be entitled to the cut-price subsidy.

TDHB funding and planning manager, Sandra Boardman, said the 1700 people who would miss out were the patients of Taranaki GP, Dr Keith Blayney, who worked independently of the region's PHOs.

The TDHB has now contacted the Ministry of Health to point out the glitch and ask for the excluded patients to be included in the scheme.

"We have written to the ministry to tell them there is an anomaly. We are waiting for their response. The vast majority of GPs in New Zealand are now part of a PHO so it could be it wasn't considered."

The $3 charge was good news for people in Taranaki because it ensured there were low-cost medicines available, Ms Boardman said. Young people who attended the youth health centre, Waves, in New Plymouth would also be entitled to the subsidy.

Only medicines subsidised through Pharmac would have the cut- rate $3 charge.

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