Ministry warned on price regulation

2010-05-25 00:00

THE SA Private Practitioners’ Forum (SAPPF), which represents medical specialists in the private sector, has warned the Health Ministry to tread carefully in advancing its proposal to regulate prices in private healthcare.

Last week Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi reportedly said he is to engage the private health sector in rolling out an independent commission that will set costs for private healthcare.

SAPPF general manager Chris Archer said the ministry must tread carefully so as not to make amendments that will chase private practitioners away.

“At the moment we don’t know what the terms of reference are and what input will be accommodated from various stakeholders.

“But whatever happens, the reality of the costs of running a practice has to be taken into consideration.”

Archer said that in principle he is against the idea of price regulation.

“The department needs to guard against the exodus of medical practitioners should terms and conditions that are not favourable to them be agreed upon,” he said.

Adam Pyle of the Life Health Care, a body representing private hospitals, said the engagement process is welcome.

He said that being part of the process gives hope that whatever decision is arrived at, it will involve all stakeholders.

“I would say the minister’s approach is different from his predecessors’ approach.

“He seeks to engage and not to force matters.

“At least everyone concerned will be able to contribute towards the process,” said Pyle.

Ministry spokesperson Fidel Hadebe said the focal point is the pricing of medicine, which affects everyone.

He added that there is no need for people to be agitated as every stakeholder will be involved in the matter.

“There’s no finality on this matter as the minister is still pushing for consultation with many stakeholders in the health sector so as to reach a consensus agreement,” Hadebe said yesterday.

Motsoaledi’s predeccesor, the late Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, and her predecessor Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma attempted to tackle the pricing issue, but they both had to settle the matter with various stakeholders in court.

Hadebe said Motsoaledi is working towards avoiding a situation where the matter has to reach the courts.

“Firstly, we must not compare the current minister with his predecessors.

“Let’s give him time to do his job and talk about the results thereafter.

“Secondly, we are set to avoid situations where the matter will land in court — hence the call by the minister for everyone concerned to be part of this process,” he added.

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