NHI to become law tomorrow-SOUTH AFRICA

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South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa will sign off on a controversial health insurance bill on Wednesday, two weeks before national elections.

Ramaphosa will sign into law the National Health Insurance Bill aimed at transforming “South Africa’s health-care system to achieve universal coverage for health services and, through this, overcome critical socio-economic imbalances and inequities of the past,” the Presidency said in a statement Monday.

Parliament’s National Council of Provinces approved the bill in December and referred it to the president for his assent.

The legislation provides a framework for the provision of universal care through a state-run fund and will ban the private sector from financing treatment covered under the plan.

While there is widespread support for reform of a system that sees a multibillion-rand private health-care industry servicing 16% of the population and the balance relying on overburdened public facilities, NHI critics argue that the government’s proposals haven’t been properly costed, are unconstitutional and could be successfully challenged in court.

Ramaphosa last month pledged to end “health-care apartheid” with the bill while addressing an election rally in the highly contested eastern KwaZulu-Natal province.

The ruling African National Congress is facing its toughest election yet on May 29, with opinion polls showing the party may lose its majority for the first time since coming to power in 1994 because of stagnant economic growth, rampant unemployment and poverty.

Business responds
BUSA is deeply concerned by the announcement that President Ramaphosa will sign the NHI Bill into law on Wednesday, 15 May 2024, given its many substantive and procedural constitutional flaws.

BUSA believes that the legislation, in its current form, is unimplementable and damaging to the country’s healthcare sector, to the economy more broadly and to investor confidence.

Cas Coovadia, CEO of BUSA, said, “We fully support the objective of universal health coverage. However, the NHI Bill in its current form is unworkable, unaffordable, and not in line with the Constitution.”

“What is especially troubling is that the President is proceeding with the Bill despite extensive constructive inputs made by a wide range of stakeholders, including doctors and healthcare professionals, civil society, public sector unions, academics and business.”

“The unfortunate consequence is that this version will hamper, rather than promote, access to quality healthcare for all citizens in our country.”

“Consequently, we will pay close attention to the President’s announcement on Wednesday, based on which we will consider our options.”

“Our subsequent actions will be guided by our belief that it is essential that we get the NHI right through all means still at our disposal, including appropriate legal interventions, so that the legislation that is finally implemented is in the best interest of our country, and all her people, for generations to come,” said Coovadia.


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