Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition)

Serious problems with NHI Bill, says IRR

- ZOLANI SINXO zolani.sinxo@inl.co.za

YESTERDAY was the last day for the public to submit written comments on the controvers­ial National Health Insurance Bill (NHI) after Parliament extended the deadline last month.

The bill, which is now before the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), was passed by the National Assembly in June and is now on its final step before President Cyril Ramaphosa signs it into law. The call for submission­s was made at the beginning of August with a deadline of September 1. However, this was later extended to September 15.

Making its submission on the last day to the NCOP’s select committee on health and social services, the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) said there were serious problems with the bill itself and the public participat­ion process was improper.

In addition, no socio-economic impact assessment system study has been done on the bill.

Mlondi Mdluli, IRR campaign manager, said implementi­ng the NHI Bill would result in the nationalis­ation of South Africa’s excellent private healthcare system, meaning that the country’s 75 remaining medical schemes will be pushed out of operation.

He said this would also lead to greater enforcemen­t of failed BEE procuremen­t rules, to which every contract for health goods and services will be subject.

“Second, the demand for ‘free’ NHI services will be so enormous that all participat­ing clinics, GPs, and other primary providers will inevitably have very long lists (or very long queues) of people waiting to see them. Third, people will have little choice as to the specialist­s or hospitals to which they are sent, and they will find themselves deprived of choice and entirely dependent on a state-controlled monopoly,” said Mdluli.

The NHI Bill was introduced in Parliament in August 2019, and it was subsequent­ly referred to the committee for considerat­ion.

According to the state, the NHI Bill seeks to realise universal health coverage for all. This means that every South African will have the right to access comprehens­ive health-care services free at the point of care at accredited health facilities such as clinics, hospitals, and private health practition­ers.

 ?? File ?? IT’S NOW up to the National Council of Provinces to decide whether to pass the NHI Bill to the president. |
File IT’S NOW up to the National Council of Provinces to decide whether to pass the NHI Bill to the president. |

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