Parliament calls for public submissions on NHI Bill

Business Live writes that Parliament’s portfolio committee on health has called for public submissions on the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill, which contains the first concrete proposals for realising the government’s plans for achieving universal health coverage. It proposes extensive reforms to the way healthcare is financed and provided, with a central NHI fund that will purchase services on behalf of the entire population. The bill was tabled in parliament on August 8, and interested parties have until October 11 to make written submissions and indicate whether they want to make oral presentations to the committee. The call for submissions was issued on Sunday, and included advertisements in national newspapers.

The constitution says health is a concurrent power, to be shared between the provincial and national health departments. But the bill proposes shifting much of the funding and responsibilities currently provided to the provincial health departments. The money will be moved into the NHI fund, and the job of contracting with service providers will be devolved to hundreds of new units answerable to district health management offices overseen by the national health department. Once the bill has been passed by the National Assembly, it will be considered by the National Council of Provinces, which is also expected to conduct public hearings.

by Tamar Kahn