In a statement on Thursday, the Democratic Alliance (DA) claimed they had successfully pressured parliament’s Health Committee to undertake that it would scrutinise the constitutionality and legality of the “problematic and disastrous” National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill.
DA MP Siviwe Gwarube said they and the public had “serious concerns about the constitutionality of this Bill and the ramifications it would pose to our already ailing economy”.
Gwarube said it was problem that the NHI would disempower provinces and centralise healthcare in national government – effectively creating another state-owned entity.
“The Constitution and the National Healthcare Act have purposefully divided legislative powers between the two spheres of government in order to ensure checks and balances.”
She said the Bill introduced to Parliament last week had five fundamental problems, in Gwarube’s words:
- It will establish another State Owned Enterprise that will be worth billions of rands placed in the hands of the politically connected. This Bill will give the Minister unvetted powers and control of the entire health system.
- The Bill completely centralises the provision of healthcare by placing the management of all central hospitals under the national department, in effect eroding provincial powers.
- NHI will fragment the health system. This will inevitably bring normal functioning systems to a grinding halt, and take power and decision making further away from people, not closer to them.
- The financing model of this Bill will mean the imposition of a new tax on ordinary South Africans to fund this new SOE.
- This Bill removes the autonomy of South Africans to choose their own healthcare.
She said the NHI was doomed to fail because the ANC was attempting to use the Bill to disguise its failure in providing quality public healthcare over the past 25 years.
The ANC has accused the DA of not being in favour of providing quality, universal healthcare to all South Africans, including the poor. The DA rejected this as a complete mischaracterisation.
“The DA has also taken note of what seems to be a coordinated attack from the ANC and its allies to spread misinformation about the DA position on universal healthcare. We will not be detracted by their lies.
“The DA unequivocally supports universal healthcare. We will, however, not support a fundamentally problematic piece of legislation which will destroy the health sector and push the economy over the precipice.
“The DA has an alternative to the NHI. Our Sizani Health Plan will achieve universal healthcare without collapsing the economy and health services in the country. In fact, under Sizani, we would be able to bridge the gap between those who have been excluded by the systematic failures of the ANC government for the past 25 years without destroying private healthcare.”
They said they were willing to debate the merits of their plan, along with the “faults of the NHI”.
“Ultimately, we want universal healthcare that fixes a broken system and puts the people first.”
(Edited by Charles Cilliers)