The Herald reports:
Opposition politicians have turned their sights on what they say is an embarrassingly small funding increase for the national drug-buying agency in a Government Budget that was meant to focus on health.
While the Budget this year featured significant increases in areas such as mental health, Pharmac got $10 million extra for the year – just over a 1 per cent bump in the context of a nearly $1 billion annual budget.
National MPs in Parliament on Tuesday were determined to try to jab what they see as a gap in the Government’s “Wellbeing Budget” armour.
“Why, when Budget 2019 allocated $15.2 billion of new operating spending over four years, couldn’t he find enough funding in the Budget to ensure Pharmac’s funding at least kept pace with inflation?” National’s Finance spokeswoman, Amy Adams, asked of the Finance Minister in the House.
She was keen to point to big-ticket items, such as fees-free tertiary education, while raising by name a series of recent high-profile case of New Zealanders pleading for Pharmac to fund medication that could save their lives or their loved ones.
They have heaps of money for free fees for lawyers and Shane’s re-election fund but couldn’t find enough money to had Pharmac funding even keep pace with inflation.
With population increase of 1.8% and inflation of 1.5%, a $33 million increase was needed just to keep real per capita funding constant. They got less than a third of that.
All about priorities.