STRONG resistance: NHI is “unc

The NHI could infringe on people’s rights. Image (slightly adapted) by flickr

STRONG resistance: NHI is “unconstitutional”

The NHI could infringe on South Africans rights. SA businesses have petitioned against the Bill, saying that the NHI is “unconstitutional”.

STRONG resistance: NHI is “unc

The NHI could infringe on people’s rights. Image (slightly adapted) by flickr

Several SA business groups said that the NHI Bill is unconstitutional. The business groups sent warnings to president Ramaphosa stipulating issues that could arise if he passes the Bill. They are not the only ones showing strong resistance towards the NHI.

Businesses appeal constitutionality

Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) and Businesses for South Africa (B4SA) petitioned the president to first test the constitutionality of the NHI Bill before signing it into law, according to Business Tech. BUSA and B4SA warned the president that this will spell disaster for universal health care in SA and the economy. They made it clear that they believe the NHI is “unconstitutional”.

Many other commentators have shown strong resistance and said that the NHI is merely a political tool used by the governing party and that it is entirely unfundable, unimplementable, and will undoubtedly be challenged on constitutional grounds the minute it becomes law, according to Business Tech. Various groups have indicated that they will challenge the NHI should it become law. These include political parties like the DA, unions like Solidarity, and private healthcare representatives like the South African Medical Association.

In January, Ramaphosa said that it is “going to happen whether they like it or not”. “There has been huge opposition against the introduction of the National Health Insurance. I can say we are going to proceed…it will go ahead,” he said.

ALSO READ: Taxpayers to finance the NHI

Health MEC also showing strong resistance

Even the the Western Cape Health MEC, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, showed strong resistance towards the NHI and voiced concerns about the NHI Bill reforms and urged the president to send the bill back to parliament, according to capetownetc. The MEC’s main concerns are centralisation of power, governance and accountability, legal concerns, and more.

Issues identified

“The Bill will materially delay access to universal health coverage, lead to disinvestment in the healthcare sector, further damage South Africa’s already fragile economy, and create significant risks for the country in terms of the availability, quality, management and governance of health care,” said BUSA and B4SA.

Busi Mavuso, CEO of Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA), said that the government is prioritising populism instead of practicality. She said that the NHI Bill will drive doctors and other medical staff out of the country and damage the private health care sector without any improvement in the public system.

ALSO READ: How Government is spending SA’s money

Is the NHI unconstitutional?

BUSA and B4SA provided a summary of key procedural and important constitutional issues in the Bill to the president. “Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Health also ignored an opinion by Parliamentary Legal Services, which highlighted several areas of the Bill that are unconstitutional,” the groups said. “The NCOP Committee failed to incorporate amendments, public submissions and technical flaws noted by provinces and the Department of Health.”

The Bill states that the health minister will have unlimited power to determine the role of medical schemes. BUSA said that this is unconstitutional. Additionally, BUSA highlighted a human rights issue. It said that the procedures for accessing health care and appealing treatment denied by the NHI, could violate the right to access health services – yet another reason for calling the NHI unconstitutional.

ALSO READ: Will smoking and vaping taxes change in South Africa?

ALSO READ: Loadshedding NOT a thing of the past – public invited to give input