National health insurance (NHI) may become a reality after Cabinet approved the NHI Bill of 2018. The Bill provides for the establishment of the NHI Fund under the Minister of Health and governed by the Public Finance Management Act.
“This bill in its current form has not been costed nor has its feasibility been tested.”
Siviwe Gwarube MP, DA Shadow Minister of Health – 11 July 2019
The Democratic Alliance notes cabinet’s approval of the NHI Bill in its current form and the referral of this piece of legislation to Parliament.
This move is premature, irresponsible and simply disastrous.
The DA is aware that neither the previous Health Minister nor the current one, Dr Zweli Mkhize, have engaged the provinces about this Bill. The matter has not been discussed at the National Health Council and provincial departments have not been engaged about the additional responsibilities that the implementation of the NHI in its current form will require from them.
Every piece of legislation and policy proposal that has an impact on the health system needs to have input from the provinces and requires their unequivocal buy in. Provincial departments are the implementing agents and the interface of healthcare with our communities.
The fact that cabinet has omitted this critical step is indicative of an ANC government in pursuit of an ideological win instead of improving healthcare for our people. It also demonstrates the ANC government’s insatiable desire for yet another State-Owned-Enterprise which will lend itself to mass corruption.
Furthermore this bill in its current form has not been costed nor has its feasibility been tested.
All what we know is that the previous minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi admitted that the R259 billion price tag for NHI was a guesstimate. We are also aware that the majority of NHI pilot projects have been a spectacular failure.
It begs the question why President Cyril Ramaphosa and Dr Mkhize would push through this bill when it is clear that it has not been thought-out.
Undeniably, South Africa needs universal healthcare.
However, the road to this quality healthcare for all does not have to be paved with a disastrous piece of legislation that will destroy the economy and the health system. The DA has a health plan that would see us implement Universal Health Care within the next 5 years at the current budget envelope.
That is why will oppose this bill in its current form. We will do so on behalf of the South Africans who have been let down by a failing health system for the past 25 years. We want to ensure that the patient is at the centre of any healthcare reforms in our country.