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NHI project on backburner – a return to sanity

National Health Insurance project on backburner – a return to sanity

It appears that rational thinking is making a slow but sure comeback, judging by a recent Fin24 report summarised in Legalbrief Today:

National Health Insurance (NHI) projects will be put on the back-burner as the Health Department has to reprioritise its budget, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi is quoted as saying in a Fin24 report. He said that Treasury had essentially cut back allocations to the Health Department by R9bn since 2015, while state subsidies and medical tax credits for private healthcare users grew by R11bn. Given the reduced budget allocations, the department had to ‘go back to the drawing board’ to decide which treatments to prioritise, he explained.

Having spoken to former Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene and Treasury DG Dondo Mogajane about the need to improve staff recruitment, it was decided the Health Department would reprioritise monies intended for NHI to recruit more than 2 000 healthcare professionals and purchase beds and linen for hospitals in dire need. The plan to recruit more healthcare workers and buy linen is part of reforms included in the economic stimulus package. Motsoaledi complained that this was ‘not new money’. He said: ‘I would have been happy if it was new money for the stimulus, but it is money which was given for NHI projects, and then you have to delay them, unfortunately.’

Motsoaledi said that the country was better off if the Health Department kept existing services going, as opposed to taking them away in favour of introducing new services in line with NHI.

Now does that not make much more sense than trying to erect a huge construction on decaying foundations? Perhaps they should also consider establishing the causes of the rot before effecting these changes? History has taught us that those who pillage state resources will be delighted at the prospect of new foraging opportunities. Who knows whether the reestablishment of state hospitals to its former adequate functioning status may not alleviate the need for the NHI in its totality?

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