Government to bring in a law to cut down on spiralling medical claims
Medical claims have skyrocketed in the past five years with Finance Minister Tito Mboweni saying the fiscus was overstretched.
Mboweni announced in his budget speech last month that there were a number of initiatives to reduce medical claims.
The programming committee has said the State Liability Bill would be sent to the justice committee.
One of the proposals in the bill is that if the claim awarded against the state was more than R1 million the court must issue an “order that compensation be paid to the creditor in terms of a structured settlement”.
This is to avoid paying large sums of money amounting to millions of rand to what is known as “once and for all”.
The structured payments will include future medical costs.
Chairperson of the justice committee Bulelani Magwanishe said yesterday they would deal with the State Liability Bill after the June recess.
Magwanishe said after the June break they would start with the budgets of various entities including the National Prosecuting Authorities.
“This is now a budget process. After the June recess we will look at those bills before us.”
The bill has also made a provision that the “amount payable by way of periodic payments will increase annually in accordance with the consumer price index”.
In the budget review, it was stated that medical claims were stretching the fiscus.
“In recent years, medical malpractice claims and litigation have increased rapidly. Although in many cases the quality of care is insufficient, the increase in claims is inconsistent with certain indicators of health outcomes in the public sector. For example, the overall death rate in public hospitals declined from 5.4% in 2013/14 to 4.6% in 2018/19, while maternal mortality in facilities decreased by 20.5% over the same period,” states the budget review.
“Since 2014, contingent liabilities and payments of medico-legal claims in the public sector have increased at an average annual growth rate of 30% and 23% respectively. In 2018/19, medico-legal contingent liabilities reached R99.2bn, while medico-legal claim payments reached R2bn.
“These payments are affecting the budgets of public facilities and in turn the delivery of services. Due to large lump sum payments often awarded in malpractice cases the effects are unplanned,” states the review.