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SUNDAY INDEPENDENT The Free Market Foundation, health minister mislead the public in the “Great Debate” article It is unfortunate when stridently opposing parties use misleading language to further their particular aims at the expense of what should be a thoughtful and carefully calibrated debate on the issue that affects every South African. I am referring to the language used in the piece headlined “Great Debate on the National Health Insurance” that was published in the Sunday Times on February 17. On one hand, in this debate, the Free Market Foundation, which is staunchly opposed to the NHI, presented its views; and on the other, the Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, understandably came out strongly on the side of the NHI. Both, however, drew the Hospital Association of South Africa (HASA) into the fray and sought to characterise it – directly and indirectly – as being opposed to the National Health Insurance. This is simply not true. Our stance has been consistent over a protracted period. In various forums – including the Presidential Health Summit – we have contributed research, evidence, and our experiences gained internationally in countries where our members have operated in universal healthcare environments – all with a view of providing perspectives to help successfully accelerate access to quality healthcare for all in this country. The Hospital Association of South Africa has never stated opposition to the NHI. To the contrary: At the annual Hospital Association of South Africa conference in 2017, two private hospital groups’ chief executives made clear from the podium their willingness to positively contribute to interventions to achieve universal healthcare. Then as now, however, an accompanying appeal was made for increased policy clarity and urgent collaboration. During the ongoing debate regarding the tabled proposals for NHI, we have asked probing questions, and we have made challenging statements as any responsible person or institution would. Our intention has always been to create a better understanding of the proposed reforms, to point out their anomalies and areas of uncertainty, and to focus minds on the necessary and critical steps that we must take to deliver health services and good policy. Seeking these outcomes, no matter how uncomfortable, should not be hastily construed as oppositional as this may lead to misunderstandings such as has occurred in the “Great Debate” where discussions on a specific topic have been quoted out of context and have become misleading. At a recent meeting of the Public Private Growth Initiative, hosted by Business Unity South Africa, a number of sectors discussed ways to collaboratively grow the economy. Inevitably, the constraints to national economic growth came into focus – including policy uncertainty and its effects. Similarly, during HASA’s presentation, areas of healthcare policy uncertainty were highlighted – including the role of medical schemes under the NHI; and the meaning and impact of Clause 54 (4) (g) in the NHI Bill. Both have a potential effect on economic growth and on the private healthcare sector. To examine each more closely, the Medical Scheme Amendment Bill reserves the right for the Registrar of medical schemes, in consultation with the Minister, to disallow medical schemes from covering the same benefits as those covered by the NHI, creating uncertainty around the role of medical schemes and the benefits available to consumers; and in Clause 54 (4) (g) of the NHI Bill, it appears that hospital services will be procured by the NHI Fund only from public hospitals, post-2026, despite other assertions in the Bill that services will be procured from public and private service suppliers. In his State of the Nation Address, the president made it clear that the fund will procure from both public and private sector suppliers, yet, as far as we know, Clause 54 (4) (g) remains. To impute from such a discussion that HASA is opposed to the NHI is to misunderstand the context and purpose of the session quoted and responded to in the “Great Debate”. A second matter arising from the “Great Debate” is the minister of health’s response to the Free Market Foundation, regarding the minister’s question as to whether the opposing view to his own was penned at our behest, while admitting that this is something he may not know. We can assure him that this is not the case. Far from being opposed to the NHI, we will respond to the president’s call for all South Africans to work collaboratively, using their skills and resources, to find solutions to our common challenges; we will therefore continue to positively contribute in any and all available forums where there is a concerted, transparent, collaborative, and committed effort to find ways to create and/or improve access to quality healthcare for all South Africans. Dr Dumisani Bomela is the chief executive officer of the Hospital Association of South Africa.
Created at 2019/03/11 09:12 AM by Mediclinic
Last modified at 2019/03/11 09:12 AM by Mediclinic