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    Opposition mounts against NHI Bill

    President Cyril Ramaphosa’s signing in of the NHI Bill has been met with fierce opposition from Premier Alan Winde and Western Cape Minister of Health and Wellness, Nomafrench Mbombo.
    Source: iStock.
    Source: iStock.

    They remain deeply concerned with the Bill in its current form, which they say requires substantial amendments.

    “We believe that the Bill as it stands currently is unconstitutional and will prove to be unaffordable and impractical.

    We firmly believe that it will not achieve its purpose of Universal Health Coverage (UHC), which our citizens deserve. I appeal to the President to refer the Bill back to Parliament for reconsideration, in terms of Section 79 of the Constitution,” said Winde.

    “In accordance with Section 27(2) of the Constitution, the State must take reasonable legislative and other measures, within its available resources, to achieve the progressive realisation of the right of access to healthcare services.”

    Winde noted that national government does not appear to have done this, in spite of him and Mombo having raised concerns as early as Friday, 8 December 2023 and Wednesday, 24 January 2024.

    There has to date been no response from Ramaphosa or his office.

    “It is for this reason that we have written once again to the President, urging him not to assent to this Bill,” Winde said.

    Call for comprehensive overhaul

    Minister Mbombo stressed, “With the NHI Bill signaling the most significant change to the healthcare system since the promulgation of the National Health Act, it is crucial that a piece of legislation of this nature reflects all stakeholders’ inputs and creates a system that is unified and strategically aligned.

    “Unfortunately, this is not the case with the NHI in its current form. For us to truly achieve UHC, we do believe that the current health system needs to be completely overhauled as we are currently trying to run an imperfect system perfectly. Rather what is required is that we create a system where all stakeholders work together.”

    While the National Government will have to draft and implement various pieces of legislation and policies in order to give effect to NHI, it is important that the framework as provided in the Bill is correct and does not contain policy gaps that create uncertainty, the parties said.

    Winde further stressed that, In addition to the uncertainty this Bill will create when signed into law, provincial health departments are having to contend with immense fiscal constraints caused in large part by the budget cuts that have had to be made due to the public-sector wage-bill increase.

    “It is, therefore, incomprehensible how the national government intends funding this unaffordable piece of legislation,” he said.

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