Min­is­ter’s re­quest smacks of state health cap­ture, says DA

The Star Early Edition - - POLITICS - MAYIBONGWE MAQHINA mayibongwe.maqhina@inl.co.za

THE DA has taken a swipe at Health Min­is­ter Dr Aaron Mot­soaledi for re­quest­ing the Coun­cil for Med­i­cal Schemes (CMS) to main­tain a database to ac­cess in­for­ma­tion on med­i­cal aid scheme mem­bers.

The party said Mot­soaledi was ask­ing too much and his ac­tions were un­con­sti­tu­tional.

A let­ter that the min­is­ter wrote to the CMS, which was re­leased by the of­fi­cial op­po­si­tion at a me­dia brief­ing in Par­lia­ment yes­ter­day, said the in­for­ma­tion would be used to mon­i­tor the im­pact of cur­rent poli­cies.

“Ad­di­tion­ally, the Depart­ment of Health would need this in­for­ma­tion to iden­tify med­i­cal aid scheme mem­bers who ac­cess ser­vices in the pub­lic sec­tor,” Mot­soaledi’s let­ter said.

The CMS was also re­quested to reg­u­larly up­date ba­sic per­sonal, de­mo­graphic (in­clud­ing ad­dresses) de­tails of all me­dial aid scheme mem­bers and their ben­e­fi­cia­ries.

“The in­for­ma­tion re­lated to the med­i­cal his­tory of med­i­cal aid scheme mem­bers is not re­quired.”

The CMS’s reg­is­trar, Daniel Le­hutjo, sub­se­quently sent a cir­cu­lar to med­i­cal aid schemes or­der­ing that they fur­nish the re­quired in­for­ma­tion to the CMS.

But DA health spokesper­son Wil­mot James de­scribed Mot­soaledi’s re­quest as “out­ra­geous” and in vi­o­la­tion of the Pro­tec­tion of Per­sonal In­for­ma­tion (Popi) Act.

“Ad­di­tion­ally, it poses a real se­cu­rity risk to in­di­vid­ual cit­i­zens,” James pointed out.

The DA’s jus­tice spokesper­son, Glyn­nis Breyten­bach, said such a database would be a “huge un­der­tak­ing that could be used for all kinds of pur­poses, and is largely il­le­gal and dam­ag­ing to in­di­vid­u­als”.

She in­sisted that the in­for­ma­tion the min­is­ter was ask­ing for was more than what he needed.

“Noth­ing has been put in place to safe­guard ad­e­quately the type of in­for­ma­tion he wants,” Breyten­bach said.

While James said it was le­git­i­mate to ob­tain the names of me­dial aid scheme mem­bers who ac­cessed pub­lic health­care, he in­sisted that ev­ery­one had a right to pri­vacy.

“He (the min­is­ter) is ask­ing for in­for­ma­tion that spec­i­fies too much.

“In fact it is un­con­sti­tu­tional and il­le­gal,” he said.

James added that Popi did not sanc­tion the database as en­vis­aged by Mot­soaledi.

“This could be an­other in­stance of state cap­ture, this time by Min­is­ter Mot­soaledi, to make sure med­i­cal aid scheme mem­bers are led to Na­tional Health In­sur­ance rather than for prudent and mar­ket reg­u­la­tory pur­poses.”

James warned that an ef­fort to use the CMS for any po­lit­i­cal ends would face a le­gal chal­lenge.

Mot­soaledi’s spokesper­son Joe Maila said the min­istry noted with con­cern the DA’s state­ment and dis­missed the no­tion that they were act­ing un­con­sti­tu­tion­ally.

Maila said the depart­ment had planned to de­velop a ben­e­fits registry which had been in­cluded in the depart­ment’s an­nual per­for­mance plan since 2014/15.

“De­vel­op­ing the na­tional registry has been part of the ap­proved plans and no mem­ber of Par­lia­ment has ever raised a query.”

Maila also said the per­sonal in­for­ma­tion in the pro­posed database would be used to iden­tify med­i­cal aid scheme mem­bers so that their scheme could be billed for ser­vices ren­dered by the pub­lic sec­tor.

“A num­ber of med­i­cal schemes have con­tracts with the pub­lic sec­tor for their mem­bers to ac­cess ser­vices. How­ever, their mem­bers fail to iden­tify them­selves and/or pro­vide ac­cu­rate in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing their scheme so that their scheme can be billed.”

He also said that for the CMS to plan and de­velop pol­icy, sum­marised in­for­ma­tion on mem­bers was cru­cial.

“We are aware that some schemes do not want this in­for­ma­tion to be avail­able, nei­ther to the depart­ment nor the pub­lic. They have a lot to hide,” Maila said.

“They go around mo­bil­is­ing prox­ies to fight this bat­tle for them,” he added.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.