DA identifies holes in NHI Bill
Johannesburg - The DA on Monday said that after scrutinising the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill it had identified areas it would use as the basis of opposition.
“We have, in fact, discovered 25 areas of this legislation that we will be opposing in Parliament when we start with clause-by-clause analysis,” said DA MP Siviwe Gwarube.
“These areas we believe are incorrect or inconsistent with the idea of achieving the universal healthcare.” The DA maintained that the bill spoke to the use of money, not quality and sustainability of healthcare.
It insisted that there had not been an overhaul of healthcare and that there was a lack of innovation, meaningful focus on preventative healthcare and growing distrust between the public health system and the private health industry, among other issues.
Gwarube noted that there were too many vague elements of the bill which indicated poor planning, and the bill’s funding was in question.
“We raise the issue of the fact that the Health minister and Finance minister seem to be at odds with how the bill will be funded.”
Her colleague, Lindy Wilson, said the party had long held that the clear erosion of the provincial powers in the bill went against the National Health Act and to an extent the provisions contained in Schedule 4 of the Constitution.
“This will be teased out and tested by our legal team when the time comes,” Wilson said.
She also said there were concerns about how foreign nationals were to be treated in the bill that went against Section 27 of the Constitution.
Wilson added that the public participation process was flawed and that the public were not properly informed about what the bill meant and contained.
Mbulelo Bara, DA MP serving on the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), said the party would ensure that the second parliamentary house followed its processes to ensure the bill met constitutional scrutiny.
“Gone are the days where the NCOP simply rubber stamps the decisions made by the National Assembly,” Bara said.
Gwarube said that the DA wanted each one of the submissions they collected to be considered along with others submitted directly to Parliament.
“One of the fights we are going to have and we are to mount in Parliament is each and every single submission, including those sent directly to Parliament, needs to be scrutinised by Parliament and by the (health portfolio) committee itself,” Gwarube said.
She also said the days in which the national legislature could simply outsource its responsibility to a third party were over.
“We as public representatives need to go through these submissions ourselves and we need to ensure that the views of South Africans are taken into consideration in passing of this bill.”
Health portfolio committee chairperson Sibongiseni Dhlomo referred questions to the parliamentary communications unit, which said he was locked up in a public hearing.