File picture: Pixabay
File picture: Pixabay

Proposal to cap medical claims against State

By Siyabonga Mkhwanazi Time of article published Nov 24, 2019

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Health Minister Zweli Mkhize is proposing a law that would put a cap on medical claims against the state after they shot up to R100 billion.

Mkhize and Finance Minister Tito Mboweni have warned that these claims were unsustainable and would impact on the state.

The two ministers also suggested lawyers were defrauding the state of millions in medical claims.

The National Treasury said last year claims had risen from R28bn in 2015 to R80bn in 2018.

This figure has now risen to R100bn this year.

Mboweni said in his mini budget recently, the government must do something with the rising medical claims in the Eastern Cape and Gauteng as the situation was dire.

Mkhize, who was answering questions in Parliament this week, said there was collusion between some of the firms on medical claims.

“We have found about four or five major firms involved in the claims. About 90% of the cases are about cerebral palsy,” said Mkhize.

He said some firms used standards from the US when calculating forward costs.

“We have a team that will analyse trends and even talk to the Law Society. Honourable members, you will be shocked: some of them are reputable firms.

“The legislation about limiting the claims is something we are processing with the Department of Justice. Sometimes the price inflation comes because lawyers want to have their cut. There is no way we can allow people to walk away with billions of rand,” said Mkhize.

He said the law would put a cap on the claims.

Mboweni also warned in his mini budget that the R100bn in medical claims was too much for the state.

Two years ago provincial departments complained about the huge claims, saying this was putting a strain on their budgets.

The Department of Transport tabled the Road Accident Benefit Scheme to cap the claims on road accidents.

This followed a similar complaint by the government that they were paying too much and some victims of road accidents did not get their money.

There were lawyers arrested recently for fleecing their clients after the victims were not paid monies due to them.

Recently, the Asset Forfeiture Unit seized R103 million from the bank accounts of fugitive lawyer Ronald Bobroff and his son, Darren, in Israel bank accounts. This was after the two fled to Australia in 2016 shortly before the Hawks arrested them for defrauding Road Accident Fund victims.

The Road Accident Benefit Scheme Bill would now put a limit to claims for road accident victims and cut the middlemen with the victims to also claim directly from the state.

The bill lapsed during the last term of Parliament after the elections in May. But last month the National Assembly revived it and this would see it being processed and finalised.

Political Bureau

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