The debate is over, NHI is on its way – health minister

New Health Minister Zweli Mkhize told a joint sitting of parliament participating in the debate of the state-of-the-nation address that they will work faster to ensure the National Health Insurance Bill is tabled in parliament soon, 25 June 2015. Photo: GCIS

New Health Minister Zweli Mkhize told a joint sitting of parliament participating in the debate of the state-of-the-nation address that they will work faster to ensure the National Health Insurance Bill is tabled in parliament soon, 25 June 2015. Photo: GCIS

Mkhize said the approval of the NHI bill in Cabinet and its introduction in parliament was imminent.

The time for debate was over and the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill would make its way to parliament soon, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said on Tuesday.

Mkhize was responding to Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane’s call on President Cyril Ramaphosa to “forget about the NHI” during the debate on the State of the Nation address.

“In this case, we want to just say clearly that universal healthcare coverage is the future and National Health Insurance will happen,” Mkhize said.

“That’s the only way we are going to be able to address the issue of inequality. We can discuss different modalities but we should not go back to the question on whether we should or shouldn’t be implementing national health insurance or not. That debate is over.”

Mkhize said the approval of the NHI bill in Cabinet and its introduction in parliament was imminent. The bill will outline how NHI will be funded.

“National Health Insurance is therefore a health financing system that is designed to pool funds and to use these pooled funds to actively purchase health services for the population based on the principles of equity and social solidarity,” he said.

“These pooled funds will provide for universal access to quality, affordable health care services for all South Africans irrespective of their socioeconomic status and I repeat, not on their ability to pay.”

The minister said concerns of the quality of public healthcare would be addressed.

The DA was not convinced and insisted is would continue to oppose the bill until it “places patients at the centre of its conception”.

African News Agency (ANA)

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