SA Medical Association warns amendment to Occupational Injuries Bill will be ’castastrophic’ for workers
Cape Town - The South African Medical Association (Sama) has warned that the amendment of Section 73, of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Amendment (COIDA) Bill, will have a catastrophic impact on injured workers and medical staff who provide their treatment.
The portfolio committee on employment and labour is currently hearing oral submissions related to the bill.
Briefing the committee on Wednesday, Sama chairperson Dr Angelique Coetzee said they would not support the amendments to the law.
“Sama remains supportive of the objective of providing quality medical care to people injured on duty. Sama, however, cannot support the amendment of Section 73 in the form that it has been proposed.”
Coetzee said that the amendment means medical practitioners, who treat employees who qualify for compensation under COIDA, will no longer be able to use their medical claims as surety for payment in any manner, and will be compelled to attend to the administration claims themselves, without the assistance of third-party administrators in a highly dysfunctional environment.
“We are also opposed to this amendment, on the grounds that it will place an immense administrative, financial and legal pressure on the health care sector, and disadvantage the injured workers and their right to quality medical care.”
The QuadPara Association of South Africa (QASA) said the provisions regarding the amendment of the bill must be constructed generously in favour of employees.
Greg Daniels, of QASA, said the proposed amendments of the COIDA Bill, in terms of medical aid and assistive devices for disabled persons, allows specifically for the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) and medical associations to provide their input.
“Rather provide an open list of persons who may be consulted, that includes service providers and organisations instead of just the HPCSA and registered medical associations.
“We say this because there is usually a large disparity between the actual tariff of fees and what those items cost in reality. Some of our members will then need to either settle for something that is not 100% what they need or they will have to pay the difference. The medical assistive devices can be quite a significant amount.”
Daniels said, on the tariff of fees, the description of products is far too specific.
“The problem with emergency and after hour hospitalisation is that hospitals are not prepared to wait for claims to be reopened. State hospitals do not always have the specialist care or resources available, resulting in worsening of the initial condition, pressure sores and even death.”
He said the department of employment and labour must consult widely in determining the tariff of fees, and include generic terms for the assistive devices.
“The claims of permanently disabled beneficiaries must remain open, so they are able to access emergency care and hospitalisation at suitable facilities.”