NHI ‘is definitely coming’

2009-09-04 00:00

KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Zweli Mkhize, told the members of the provincial legislature yesterday that government will go ahead with its planned National Health Insurance (NHI).

Speaking during the legislature debate on the NHI Mkhize said that opposition parties have a right to air their views about the health scheme but cautioned against creating political ideologies on the matter because the ruling party will not reverse the NHI. It will go forward with it.

Mkhize said that the debate must be based on information and scientific proof. He admitted that the health system in the country needs a fundamental overhaul. He said that there are vast inequalities in the country regarding health. Poor people, said Mkhize, cannot access private health care.

He said that the question is how to modify the public and the private health care sectors to benefit all. According to the Premier, private health care is faced with spiralling medical costs and if nothing is done to improve it then it might plunge into a crisis.

Unemployed people are getting thrown out by their medical aids, and patients leave private hospitals for government hospitals because their medical aids have lapsed; these are challenges that government needs to look at, said Mkhize.

In the last 15 years it can be argued that the health sector should have been given more funds, Mkhize said, adding that increased funding is pivotal for hospital revitilisation and improved hospital management.

DA caucus leader in the legislature, John Steenhuisen, called on the ruling party to make documents on the NHI public to be debated, adding that in the U.S., from which the country’s NHI model is derived, it is being rigorously discussed.

“It’s been nearly three months after the ANC promised to release the documents on the matter. The people who are supposed to benefit from this have not been included,” he said.

Steenhuisen accused Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande of threatening war against opposers of the NHI instead of instigating dialogue, saying that the ruling party wants opposition parties to sing the same tune without proper debate.

“We all agree that the health system under the stewardship of the ANC is flawed. Fix the health services first,” he said.

Minority Front leader Amichand Rajbansi, said there should be a pilot project first, preferably in Gauteng province.

Jo Ann Downs of the ACDP said that the problem with the ANC regarding the health scheme is that the ruling party thinks it can do it alone. Broad consultation is needed, she added.

The country has 200 medical aid schemes, said Downs, which is a huge proliferation of costs and a country like Netherlands has five medical aid schemes.

IFP’s Usha Roopnarain said that it was within their rights to raise concerns regarding the NHI and necessary to debate given that the health system needed fixing.


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