Heated debate on NHI Bill as vote nears

Published Dec 6, 2023


While the Western Cape legislature voted to adopt a report by the standing committee on health, which does not support the National Health Insurance Bill (NHI), the ANC in the province maintains that passing the bill “will be a significant step towards achieving equitable access to quality health care for all citizens”.

The NHI aims to provide universal access to quality health care for all South Africans as enshrined in the Constitution.

It is envisioned that the NHI fund will cover “South Africans of all races, rich or poor and legal long-term residents”, with one pool of health-care funding for private and public healthcare providers.

The NHI fund is expected to be funded from general taxes, contributions of people earning above a set amount, and monthly contributions made by the employees to the fund collected and submitted, in a similar manner to UIF contributions.

The National Council of Provinces select committee on health and social services is expected to vote on the NHI Bill on Wednesday.

Tuesday, followed by the Reading Debate on the Medium Term Adjustments Appropriation Bill (Budget) in the Western Cape legislature, political parties made various declarations on the NHI.

ANC MPL Rachel Windvogel said: “The passing of this bill will be a significant step towards achieving equitable access to quality health care for all citizens, especially the over 50 million South Africans that use the public health sector. The NHI will address the existing disparities in our health-care system, as well as barriers to access, thereby ensuring that no one is left behind when it comes to receiving quality medical care.

“Individuals like Aunt Sarah in the rural outskirts of this province in the Overberg, the Central Karoo, and other rural communities will, for the first time, be guaranteed equitable and quality health care right at their doorsteps.

“Having attended all the public hearings in our province, I can confidently say that the resounding majority of the people in this province are in full support of the passing of the NHI Bill.”

ACDP MPL Ferlon Christians, however, said in its current form they did not support the bill.

“If implemented as outlined in the NHI Bill it will be dysfunctional, due to the government being incompetent. Organised business said they will challenge the bill in court if passed in its current form as it is fundamentally unworkable. It’s being pushed through without proper deliberation,” said Christians.

EFF MPL Aishah Cassiem added that they too did not support the bill.

“The NHI bill is a disaster. It makes no sense how it will be implemented in an already collapsed public healthcare sector. This bill falls short of adequately addressing how it will deal with inequality in the health-care sector and how it will actually implement this universal health-care coverage.

For these reasons, the EFF rejects this bill,” he said.

DA MPL Gerrit Pretorius said the NHI would allow the state to take control of virtually all health care in South Africa. “Private health care and medical procedures would be funded by a massive central tax-funded pool of money.”

Cape Times