NHI Bill Update – will it reach Parliament as scheduled?

“Critics will do anything to stop NHI Bill, says Health Ministry”

“Call to stop ‘substantively amended’ NHI Bill”

“Party to seek legal advice on NHI rush job”

These headlines are just a few in the midst of the announcement that the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill will be tabled in parliament next week.

The bill, contested by many, is the first piece of enabling legislation for extensive health sector reforms being planned by the government in order to realise its drive to provide universal health coverage.

Business Live recently reported on all the actions that took place since the bill was released for public comment on June 21. After submissions closed on September 2, the bill was revised by a small team led by presidential adviser Olive Shisana.

In early November their work on the bill ran into strong opposition from senior Treasury officials, who raised “concerns about a host of measures in the bill, ranging from new proposals that sharply diminished the role of medical schemes, to a lack of adequate consultation on its proposed changes, to the role of provincial health departments.”

In a Cape Talk radio interview, the Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield interviewed Dr Nicholas Burger, Health Consultant at Frost and Sullivan, on the possible effects of the NHI on the health system in South Africa. Burger also raised his concerns based on the leaked version of the revised NHI Bill. According to Burger it is strange that government is willing to do away with the important role that the private medical schemes could play in the implementation of the NHI. “It will force consumers to only rely on the NHI for certain services and will cause people to wait in queues for certain health care services”, he remarked.

Civil society organisations also called on the cabinet to send the NHI Bill back to the department of health and require a more thorough consultation process, according to the Business Live report.

Will these calls be heeded, or are going to see yet another piece of defective legislation limping along the rugged road to recall? Editor.

Click here to read the Business Live report.

Click here to listen to the Cape Talk radio interview.

Latest update: LegalBrief Today reported that “Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has defended the government’s approach to crafting the Bill. Motsoaledi said he rejected ‘with contempt’ recent media articles alleging irregularities in the manner in which the NHI Bill was being processed by the government. According to another Business Day report, he said there was nothing sinister in the Presidency’s involvement in the NHI process. There had been extensive consultation between Treasury and his department, facilitated by the Presidency, he said. ‘Sometimes these consultations took place through exchange of letters. There was hence nothing untoward with the letter written by the National Treasury on this matter. What is sinister, however, is the leaking of such letters to the media by some unscrupulous officials pretending that they uncovered some hidden evil lurking in governmental departmental exchanges,’ he said. He did not offer an explanation for why the DG had not been included in revising the NHI Bill.”

Click here to read the full Business Day report.

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