South Africa: 100,000 Submissions On NHI Bill Received

The Portfolio Committee on Health has received about 100 000 submissions on the controversial National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill, but is yet to read one.

To boot, there is about a month left for submissions.

At a press briefing on key items on Parliament's agenda with chair of chairs Cedric Frolick, chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Health Sibongiseni Dhlomo said members of his committee were sacrificing their weekends to attend public hearings across the country. Mpumalanga is first up this weekend.

He said the Western Cape would be the last province in February before the State of the Nation Address (SONA).

After the SONA, they intend to look at all the written submissions.

"We're hoping that by June, we'll be rounding up as a committee to present a report to the Speaker," Dhlomo said.

Frolick added that the National Council of Provinces would also have a public participation process on the Bill and go to other regions that the Portfolio Committee on Health hadn't visited.

In his introductory remarks, Frolick said the Bill aimed to provide a package of comprehensive health services for free at private and public health facilities as part of its aim to provide more equitable access to quality healthcare.

"The Portfolio Committee on Health has invited interested individuals and stakeholders to submit written submissions on the Bill and to say whether they would also want to make oral submissions on the Bill. The initial closing date for these written submissions was 11 October. But the closing date has since been extended to 29 November," he said.

"Questions have been raised about how the National Health Insurance Bill would be financed and whether our country can afford it, among other issues."

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