Questions mount over NHI's affordability
Cape Town - Parliament has received more than 100 000 written submissions on the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill following its tabling a few months ago.
Chairperson of the health portfolio committee Sibongiseni Dhlomo said on Wednesday they had not yet looked at the written submissions.
“The numbers are really not the ones we are looking at now. That process is going to be taken care of once we come back,” he said referring to the public hearings the committee will undertake, starting on Friday.
Parliament had asked the public to make written submissions on the NHI Bill. The deadline was October 11, but it was extended to November 29.
Chair of chairs Cedric Frolick said already in the initial submissions, questions were asked about the financial affordability of the NHI.
The committee is scheduled to start with public hearings in Mpumalanga from Friday until Monday.
“It’s all systems go and we have just been briefed and we are ready to start,” Dhlomo said.
After the committee’s visit to four municipalities in Mpumalanga, the public hearings will be held in the Northern Cape from November 1-4.
These will be followed by hearings in the coming weeks in KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Limpopo before the first week of December.
In January, the hearings will be held in the Free State, North West, Gauteng and the Western Cape in the first week of February.
Dhlomo said the committee planned to convene after the State of the Nation Address in February to look at the written submissions.
“We hope by June we will be ready to present a report back to the speaker. This is our protection and we are hopeful to work hard to make sure we don’t go beyond time limits, so that by June the bill is back in the House for the speaker to table for further processing.”
Frolick said the National Assembly was in consultation with the National Council of Provinces, which could also hold its public hearings. “They won’t go to the same areas. This will provide a platform and better opportunity to South Africans to contribute to the process.”
Meanwhile, the committee on amendments of Section 25 of the Constitution, which deals with land expropriation without compensation, wants a bill ready for reporting to the National Assembly before the March 31 deadline.
“What we envisage is that this committee will sit after hours and where possible during sittings of the House to finalise a draft bill that the public will be able to comment on. We anticipate the draft bill should be ready by mid-December and then be published in the government gazette.”
He said the public would be allowed to comment on the bill in January and immediately after the closing date the committee will consider public submissions. They may have public hearings in and outside Parliament.
“Thereafter the committee will go through the formal stages of the bill. We anticipate that in early February and March the bill will be ready to come to the National Assembly for the committee to report before March 31.”