Constitutionality of NHI Bill under the microscope

19 Aug 2019

The portfolio committee on health wants the State Attorney to update it on the constitutionality of the National Health Insurance Bill.

In a statement, the committee indicated that the briefing should take place before it commences work on the bill. The bill was tabled in parliament earlier this month.

It aims to:

  • achieve universal access to quality health care services in the Republic in accordance with section 27 of the Constitution;
  • establish a National Health Insurance Fund and to set out its powers, functions and governance structures;
  • provide a framework for the strategic purchasing of health care services by the Fund on behalf of users;
  • create mechanisms for the equitable, effective and efficient utilisation of the resources of the Fund to meet the health needs of the population;
  • preclude or limit undesirable, unethical and unlawful practices in relation to the Fund and its users; and
  • provide for matters connected herewith.

The bill flows from the National Health Insurance (NHI) White Paper, published in June 2017.

It sets out government’s proposals to put a universal health coverage system in place.

The NHI aims to pool funds to provide access to quality and affordable health services for all South Africans based on their health needs and irrespective of their socio-economic status.

The NHI Fund will purchase health care services for all users who are registered with the Fund.

According to the committee’s chairperson, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, it is important that the committee receives a briefing from the State Attorney on the legal advice it gave to the Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, on the constitutionality of the bill.

This is necessary to “address the concerns raised by various people, including those who think they will find space to challenge the constitutionality of the NHI Bill.”

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(This article is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. For more information on the topic, please contact the author/s or the relevant provider.)
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