South Africa

Full-on assault against NHI

Many business groups, including Solidarity, medical professionals, and business organisations, vowed to fight National Health Insurance (NHI) after the NCOP passed the Bill unaltered.

On Wednesday, the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) passed the National Health Insurance Bill at a sitting in Cape Town, with backing from eight of the nine provinces.

The NHI seeks to ensure all South Africans have access to quality healthcare services and provides for the establishment of a fund for this purpose.

The NHI fund will be used to pay for almost all treatment from accredited providers, with rates to be set by the state.

Private medical aid providers will only be able to pay for products and services that the fund does not cover.

Health Minister Joe Phaahla told the legislature that it was a historic day and a very historic achievement.

He said NHI would “transform the health services, create equity and make sure the perpetual divisions of South Africans, at least in the area of health care, can come to an end”.

The Bill will now be referred to President Cyril Ramaphosa, who can either sign it into law or request lawmakers to amend it.

While the ruling ANC is celebrating the NCOP’s decision to pass the NHI Bill, many organisations vowed to fight it with all their might.

Solidarity CEO Dirk Hermann

Trade union Solidarity said it was ready to launch a full-on assault against the planned National Health Insurance (NHI).

“Should one last appeal to President Cyril Ramaphosa to halt the NHI fall on deaf ears too, we will be heading to court to stop it,” the union said.

Theuns du Buisson, economic researcher at the Solidarity Research Institute (SRI), warned that the NHI will lead to increased taxes.

“We have shown how the cost of the so-called free health care will be recovered from South Africans as additional taxes,” he said.

“We have shown how it will affect the prospects of health care workers and medical staff to such an extent that they will consider career moves or even emigration.”

They also cautioned that a health care system left in the hands of those who have wrecked Eskom, Transnet and SAA will cost human lives.

Solidarity Chief Executive Dirk Hermann previously said it would hold individuals, including the President and the Ministers of Finance and Health, personally liable for the consequences of NHI should it be implemented.

Solidarity said it was determined to fight these plans to capture ownership of our health in court.

Business Unity SA (BUSA) CEO Cas Coovadia

Business Unity SA (BUSA) and Business4SA (B4SA) also prepared a formal petition to President Cyril Ramaphosa to send the NHI Bill back to parliament.

“The Bill, in its current format, is unworkable, unimplementable, and unaffordable. It is also unconstitutional, both on substantive and procedural grounds,” they said.

The South African Health Professionals Collaboration (SAHPC) is also against the NHI bill in its current format.

The organisation’s spokesperson, Caroline Corbett, told The Money Show the NHI does not address the means to enable health reform at a public sector level.

There are constitutional infringements that are extremely concerning. The process of railroading this Bill through the National Council of Provinces is an embarrassment,” she said.

Corbett added that none of the submissions that were sent in have even been considered, which raises concerns.

“What we’d like to see happen is actual engagement with the stakeholders that have the greatest vested interest in making this bill work,” she said.


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