Health Minister Annette King has announced the start of the phasing out the community services card. This is part of the move to direct new primary health care funding toward Primary Health Organisations.
"Unfortunately the card cannot be eliminated immediately. That will happen as we implement the Primary Health Care Strategy completely over the next eight to 10 years."
She says that in the meantime the income threshold for the card will be raised to allow 23,000 New Zealanders to have or to continue to have lower-cost visits and prescriptions.
"We will be also be doing our best to encourage far better uptake of the card by making it simpler to access."
The government is concerned at its low uptake and "the harsh and blunt nature of the way it was applied.