The public will have extra time to hand in written submissions on the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill after Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Health extended the closing date.Committee chairperson Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo said on Wednesday that the closing date changed from October 11 to November 29, after people asked for an extension."We have been considering the requests from relevant stakeholders who play an important role in the delivery of healthcare in the country."He said the new closing date did not affect the start of public hearings later this month. The hearings will start in Mpumalanga from October 25 to 28, before moving to the Northern Cape from November 1 to 4.Quality universal healthcareThe committee previously indicated that the public engagement process would also take place over weekends to accommodate those who were unavailable during the week.The NHI Bill seeks to achieve quality universal healthcare in South Africa and establish a National Health Insurance Fund.The Bill also sets out the powers, function and governance structures of the fund and provides a framework for the purchase of healthcare services on behalf of users.Written submissions must be sent to Ms Vuyokazi Majalamba and be addressed to the Portfolio Committee on Health, 3rd floor, 90 Plein Street, Cape Town 8000; e-mailed to email@example.com; or faxed to 086 694 3279 by the closing date.Those who make a submission should also indicate whether they would like to do a verbal presentation.Copies of the NHI Bill can be obtained from Majalamba or on Parliament's website.OUTA, who also requested an extension for written public comments, welcomed the decision."A 90-day period would allow for civil society organisations such as ourselves to provide submissions that are of sufficient depth and quality. This, in turn, can serve to enhance the participation process," said OUTA executive director Heinrich Volmink.