ANC 'shutting down debate on NHI'
Johannesburg - Instead of encouraging a constructive discussion around the National Health Insurance (NHI) Green Paper, the chairperson of the health portfolio committee closed down the debate, the Democratic Alliance said on Wednesday.
The chief whip of the DA, Ian Davidson, would be writing to the speaker to raise the party's concerns over what seemed to be a concerted attempt to prevent meaningful discussion on the NHI, Mike Waters, shadow minister of health said.
"It is the duty of members of the health portfolio committee to ask questions and seek clarity on aspects of all presentations before the committee. It is unacceptable that an issue as important as the NHI is not open for discussion.
"Today, the chairperson closed the meeting before the director general of health answered any questions relating to the NHI proposal. The questions included a request for more details on the package of services to be offered by the NHI, the independence of the proposed office of standards compliance, access of people in rural areas to quality healthcare and the role of medical aids under the NHI. "
Waters said that the DA representatives on the committee had expected to gain clarity on these and other aspects of the Green Paper.
"This is crucial in order for us to formulate a constructive response to the proposed NHI. In the coming weeks, the DA will be formulating a comprehensive position in consultation with party structures and other stakeholders."
Waters said the party shared the national government's goal of improving access to quality healthcare for all.
Whether or not the proposed NHI achieved this would be the central question the party would ask in the weeks ahead.
"We hope that the chairperson of the portfolio committee will give opposition parties the space to engage constructively with the department's proposals," Waters concluded.