Cab­i­net de­ci­sion on NHI Bill ex­pected next month

Observer on Saturday - - News -

Cab­i­net will con­vene a spe­cial meet­ing in Jan­uary to dis­cuss the Na­tional Health In­sur­ance (NHI) Bill, ac­cord­ing to gov­ern­ment sources.This fol­lows the pre­sen­ta­tion of the Bill to Cab­i­net on Thurs­day, where state law ad­vis­ers as­sured mem­bers that the Bill did not con­tra­vene the Con­sti­tu­tion.

Thurs­day’s Cab­i­net state­ment made no men­tion of the NHI lead­ing to spec­u­la­tion that the Bill had been


re­jected. How­ever, two well-placed sources con­firmed to Health-e that, as Thurs­day’s Cab­i­net agenda was full, Cab­i­net mem­bers had de­cided to de­fer the Bill to a spe­cial Cab­i­net meet­ing on 30 Jan­uary. The NHI, which lays the ground­work for the es­tab­lish­ment of a sin­gle health sys­tem, will be the only item on the agenda at this meet­ing.

The Depart­ment of Health de­clined to com­ment on the process, with spokesper­son Popo Maja say­ing it was a Cab­i­net mat­ter.

The NHI Bill sparked con­tro­versy re­cently when the Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of Health, Pre­cious Mat­soso, said she had nei­ther seen the fi­nal draft nor signed off on it be­fore it had been re­ferred to a Cab­i­net sub-com­mit­tee last week. How­ever, Mat­soso con­firmed this week that she had since re­ceived a copy of the Bill, and con­firmed that the NHI process was be­ing driven by a ‘war room’ lo­cated in the Pres­i­dency con­vened by Dr Olive Shisana.

Health Depart­ment Deputy Di­rec­tor Gen­eral An­ban Pil­lay has been sec­onded to the Pres­i­dency to as­sist Shisana.

The NHI pro­poses a rad­i­cal shakeup of the coun­try’s health sys­tem based on com­pul­sory con­tri­bu­tions from all work­ing peo­ple to­wards an NHI Fund.

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