There’s been mixed reactions to the passing of the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill.
The NHI, which was first introduced in 2015 by the Portfolio Committee on Health, finally got the nod from the National Assembly yesterday.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has welcomed the lawmakers’ move.
The labour federation is among the interested parties who have supported the bill, which seeks to accelerate unified access to healthcare for all South Africans.
It will now be taken to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) for consideration and once approved – it will be submitted to the President for assent.
During implementation, every South African will have a right to access comprehensive healthcare services free of charge at accredited health facilities such as clinics, hospitals and private health practitioners.
While concerns have been raised on how long it will take for the bill’s implementation, Cosatu’s Parliamentary Coordinator, Matthew Parks, has reminded detractors that Rome wasn’t built in one day.
He says time will be needed for it to be implemented properly.
Cosatu believes that the purpose of the bill is to strengthen the primary healthcare, which was the foundation of National Health Insurance (NHI) and at the centre of its financial sustainability and success of health outcomes.
Parks says healthcare is a right that should be afforded to every South African.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) is among political parties that have raised concern over how the bill can be implemented in South Africa at this stage.
The official opposition says billions of rands will be needed to first repair the country’s hospitals, before South Africans can get the healthcare they deserve.
DA MP, Michelle Clarke, says at the moment about nine million people have medical aid and once implementation of the NHI begins, these people will have to be accommodated by the already overburdened public health system.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has meanwhile slammed the bill as an unstainable, overt admittance by the ANC government of its failure to build a working health system for South Africans.
“They have thus resolved to outsource healthcare and our people’s wellbeing to the private sector,” says the party.
“It is unconstitutional for a bill to dictate that the only way our people to get medical intervention is on the basis that they register as users of NHI,” the EFF adds.
EFF MP @NalediChirwa in Parliament.
-The NHI does not make access to healthcare easier for the poor, as the referral system outlined in the NHI states that we should all access healthcare at our nearest facility.#EFFInParliament pic.twitter.com/fDNWNIvdee
— Economic Freedom Fighters (@EFFSouthAfrica) June 13, 2023
Private healthcare service provider, Discovery Health, agrees with the DA that drastic improvement of the health system has to be made before NHI can be implemented.
The South African Medical Association (SAMA) on the other hand says the legislation lacks clarity on how problems within the health sector will be dealt with.
Among issues of concern the medics’ association has raised are weak governance at health facilities and staff shortages.
If you’re dumb enough to believe that the overriding intent of NHI is to provide better healthcare for people, as opposed to just being another massive pot for politicians and the connected to loot, then you haven’t being paying attention.
— Acclaimed Journalist (@Jonathan_Witt) June 14, 2023
The #NHI is NOT “universal healthcare”.
It’s a monopoly like #Eskom that’ll steal money from you to give it to “comrades”.
The #NHIbill creates the Eskom of healthcare, where politicians will tell you when & where you can get healthcare…if there is any to give.
— Sihle Ngobese (@BigDaddyLiberty) June 13, 2023
ANC has broken the health system too. Now they will break NHI. https://t.co/IuuddHUND8
— Peter Mansfield (@Peterman43) June 14, 2023
Looks like NHI will be free, can someone who knows pls clarify this clause of source of funding. pic.twitter.com/03D1GG7jUs
— Khandani Msibi (@KhandaniM) June 14, 2023
Written by: Nokwazi Qumbisa