Labour announces big health boost

VERNON SMALL
Last updated 14:43 10/08/2014
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David Cunliffe launching the Labour party's election campaign in Auckland today.

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Labour is promising 1.7 million people - 40 per cent of the population - will be eligible for free doctors visits and prescriptions under a Labour-led government.

> See our live blog of Labour and NZ First's campaign launches here

Leader David Cunlifffe announced the plan today at his campaign launch in Auckland saying the September 20 election was about a choice between prosperity for all or only for a few.

"After another three years heading in the direction we're heading we just won't know this country. Our rivers will be dirty. What's left of our assets will be sold, and so will vast tracts of our land. We will be tenants in our own country," Cunliffe told the 800 strong audience, in a reference to the recent controversy over farm sales to foreigners.

The major health package includes free doctors visits and prescriptions for almost 700,000 people aged over 65 at a cost of $120m.

Children up to 13 and pregnant women, who are currently entitled to free primary health care in relation to their pregnancy but not other medical needs, will also get free GP visits and prescriptions at a cost of $20m.

About 60,000 expectant mothers would also get free dental care.

Labour says a big expansion of the Care Plus scheme will expand it from just under 200,000 patients to about 440,000.

The $90m Care Plus scheme boost will include free prescriptions, costing about $30m. It provides four free doctors visits a year.

However the criteria to qualify for the extended Care Plus will be set later.

The policy is clearly targeting middle New Zealand and elderly voters with an eye on NZ First supporters. Its leader Winston Peters also launched his campaign in Auckland today.

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