Medical Association rejects NHI Bill in current form

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File Picture

Published May 31, 2023


Durban - The South African Medical Association has rejected the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill in its current form, saying that there had been lack of concern about the concerns and recommendations of experts on crucial issues like benefits packages and reimbursement models, among others.

Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Health on Friday considered and adopted the NHI Bill, which is set to be debated in the National Assembly.

The bill, looks to give every South African the right to access comprehensive health-care services free of charge at accredited health facilities such as clinics, hospitals and private health practitioners.

Sama chairperson Dr Mvuyisi Mzukwa said the association had been engaging the bill since 2007, and participated in all the stages of the submissions.

"While universal health coverage as envisaged in the objectives of the bill intends to improve the health and livelihoods of the citizens of South Africa, the bill in its current form sets up the health-care system for failure at the expense of further deterioration of the health and well-being of all who live in the country," Mzukwa said.

“In all those engagements we raised issues because we realised that we have a vision in the country that has to fit into the UN’s sustainable goals, especially on universal health coverage.

“We agree that our health-care system needs reform, but how that reform comes about is the debate we are engaging in.”

Mzukwa said one of the concerns was that there had not been any proof of concept in terms of piloting the NHI project.

“The pilot project between 2012 and 2013 had serious deficiencies as it did not talk about the reinvestment mechanisms, the private sector and contracting of general practitioners. There were many elements that were left out,” said Mzukwa.

He said the funding mechanism was open to corruption as it gave immense power to the health minister.

“If we allow the NHI to go without a watchdog, we are worried we will face the same corruption challenges we faced during Covid-19.”