Labour MP Arena Williams fact-checked by Twitter community note over post about scrapping of prescription fee

Labour MP Arena Williams' Twitter has been slapped with a community note for a post she made about the Government's dumping of the $5 prescription co-payment.

In the post on Thursday, after the Government announced the scrapping of the payment in Budget 2023, Manurewa MP Williams explained how the move would positively impact her own dad.

"The $5 prescription fee was charged per item, so my dad pays around $50 a month for medicine from our local pharmacist who he walks to, and who knows him by name. Scrapping the fee means he'll never choose between heating his bedroom and his health."

But the post drew the attention of Twitter fact-checkers, who had since added a context note to the tweet.

"The MoH (Ministry of Health) have a prescription subsidy scheme which means once you have paid for 20 prescription items, no prescription fees are charged for the rest of the year (February 1 to January 31)," the Twitter community note said.

Twitter launched its fact-checking project in 2021. It allows some Twitter users to debunk misleading tweets by attaching notes to the content in order to provide context or point to accurate sources.

Labour's dumping of the prescription co-payment in Thursday's Budget has sparked much debate on the social media platform.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins on Friday described the policy, which was costing the Government $618.6 million over four years, as a "preventative measure" and claimed it was "going to save the health system money".

Health Minister Ayesha Verrall said the Government expected about 3 million New Zealanders would benefit from the scrapping of the $5 fee.

"The $5 charge can be a barrier to some New Zealanders getting the medicines they need and this is especially the case at a time when people are facing increasing pressures on household budgets," Dr Verrall said. 

"As a doctor, there were times when my patients did not collect their medication and, in fact, we know more than 135,000 adults did not collect their prescription because of cost in 2021‑22. This is particularly the case for low-income families, Māori, Pasifika peoples and disabled New Zealanders."