Make 'very rich' pay to use the NHS, says Christchurch MP Sir Christopher Chope
WHY not make the “very rich” pay to use the NHS, Christchurch MP Sir Christopher Chope mooted, in the wake of the health and social care tax hike.
Sir Christopher hit out in the House of Commons at apparent funding “anomalies” in respect of health and social care, before proposing a range of innovative alternative measures. He questioned: “Why should the very rich have unrestricted access to a free NHS?”
He spoke during a debate into the government’s agreed 1.25% rise in National Insurance for workers and employers – which is expected to raise around £12bn. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the hike was necessary to help fund health and social care.
The government recently pushed the idea through the Commons in a vote – with Sir Christopher one of a handful of Tory backbench rebels who were against the move but failed to defeat it.
Sir Christopher said the government aspired to “integrate” health and social care, but questioned how that could happen given the NHS operated on a “universal” free-for-all policy, while the social care hike was based on an individual’s income.
“If they are interdependent and we are moving towards an integrated scheme, why do we not apply the same principles to both NHS healthcare and social care?” he asked.
“We could have means-testing for healthcare, in the same way as we have for social care, or we could not have any means-testing for social care, in the same way as we do not have any means-testing for healthcare. If we are going to merge the two schemes, we need to resolve those anomalies.”
Sir Christopher continued: “Is it reasonable that we should have co-payment in the NHS? If so, it would generate an enormous amount of additional income. We essentially have co-payment on prescription charges, ophthalmology services, dentistry and, increasingly, audiology services.
“The idea that we should have co-payment more widely, so that people who can afford it contribute, say, half the cost of an orthopaedic operation, seems to be anathema to the government. I do not understand why, if they want to get more money into the system.”
He went on to note there are about 1.6m unpaid carers and questioned why they should be hit by the tax hike.
“Surely it would be reasonable to exclude those who are looking after their loved ones, doing the right thing and saving the state a lot of money. We could say, ‘In return for doing that, you will be exempt from the 1.5% levy’,” he suggested.