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Criticism mounts over 'shockingly' short time given to nominate people to NHI committee

Industry players in SA have bemoaned the fact that only two working days were given to nominate people for the committee that will determine what benefits the National Health Insurance will offer. According to a report in The Times, the Health Department said in a letter on Friday of last week that nominations for the steering committee would close on Tuesday.

The Treatment Action Campaign’s Anela Yawa said it was “shocking” that such a short time was given for nominations. “The TAC finds the very short turnaround time on the notice of call for nominations to the NHI steering committee shocking and disappointing.”

The report said Section 27’s head of healthcare, Sacha Stevenson, agreed that more time was required. “The department must allow more time for the nomination of people to such an important committee. This committee will be starting the vital work of defining the benefits package under NHI. Even for an interim structure, which this appears to be, there can be no justification for such short notice.”

Discovery Health CEO Jonathan Broomberg said: “This is a critical committee for the NHI and we believe that there should be adequate time allowed for all stakeholders to consult and to nominate appropriate experts. The time given in this case is insufficient to allow for this.”

The short period could be challenged in court, a lawyer is quoted in the report as saying.

Pam Saxby writes for Legalbrief Policy Watch that the controversial NHI Bill reflects Treasury thinking on provincial functions under NHI and the fund’s revenue stream. Saxby says this is according to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize who said in a written reply to questions posed by FF Plus representative in the NCOP, Armand Cloete, an earlier version was amended so that the fund envisaged receives an "appropriation from Parliament" rather than imposing what Mkhize referred to as a "direct charge" to the fiscus.

The Office of the State Law Adviser has since confirmed that the Bill is in line with the requirements of both the Public Finance Management Act and the Division of Revenue Act.

Meanwhile, Saxby says at the time of writing it was still not clear whether the National Assembly’s Health Committee intends extending its 11 October deadline for written submissions on the Bill, in anticipation of public hearings. The committee was approached last week by the Helen Suzman Foundation, which would like to have seen ‘certain documents’ understood to have been ‘crucial’ to the drafting process released with the Bill.

[link url="https://select.timeslive.co.za/news/2019-09-18-outcry-as-only-two-days-given-to-nominate-nhi-committee/"]The Times report[/link]

[link url="https://legalbrief.co.za/diary/legalbrief-today/policy-watch/legislation-treasurys-nhi-concerns-addressed-mkhize/"]Legalbrief Policy Watch report[/link]

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