Concerns heighten as Ramaphosa readies to sign NHI Bill into law

Business and political parties have expressed disappointment with President Cyril Ramphosa’s announcement that he will, on Wednesday, sign into law the controversial National Health Insurance Bill. On Monday, Ramaphosa announced that he would publicly sign the Bill, which government hoped to use to achieve universal coverage for health services and, through this, overcome socioeconomic imbalances and past inequities. Business Unity South Africa said it was deeply concerned by the announcement, given the Bill’s many “substantive and procedural constitutional flaws”. “We fully support the objective of universal health coverage, however, the NHI Bill in its current form is unworkable, unaffordable, and not in line with the Constitution,” said Busa CEO Cas Coovadia. The South African Health Professionals Collaboration, also expressed its disappointment and concern following the announcement. The SAHPC has made many submissions and had engagement in the NHI parliamentary process, in December, and has urged the President to refer the Bill back to Parliament on the grounds that it is unconstitutional and not in the best interest of patients and citizens. SAHPC said its input and insights were ignored. Meanwhile, ActionSA said it was disappointed that Ramaphosa had ignored the plea to avoid signing the Bill into law, in order to “avoid State capture 2.0”. Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen said the Bill presented an “existential risk” to South Africa’s public and private healthcare systems and that it would impose an “unbearable” new tax burden on citizens.

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