Doctors, businesses and unions get ready for war over the NHI

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Business Unity SA (BUSA) Considers Legal Action Against NHI Bill Signing

Business Unity SA (BUSA) is contemplating legal action if President Cyril Ramaphosa proceeds with signing the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill into law during a planned ceremony at the Union Buildings on Wednesday. This move by BUSA adds to the growing legal challenges against the imminent laws, with trade union Solidarity and opposition parties also gearing up for legal processes against the legislation.

Despite the presidency’s assertion that the bill aims to transform South Africa’s healthcare system for universal coverage and address past socio-economic imbalances, criticisms from various sectors, including businesses, healthcare professionals, worker unions, and legal experts, highlight major constitutional flaws and concerns about irreversible damage to the healthcare sector, especially private healthcare.

BUSA CEO Cas Coovadia emphasized that while they support the goal of universal health coverage, the current form of the NHI Bill is deemed unworkable, unaffordable, and not aligned with the Constitution. BUSA expressed disappointment that despite extensive inputs from stakeholders, the President is moving forward with the bill, potentially impeding access to quality healthcare for all citizens.

In response to the bill, Solidarity has strongly opposed the NHI, advocating for a market approach and warning against the potential negative impacts on the healthcare sector. Concerns about funding, estimated between R200 billion and R700 billion annually, have been raised by various groups, including the Public Service Association, citing a lack of clarity on funding sources and implications for taxpayers.

The South African Health Professionals Collaboration (SAHPC), representing over 25,000 healthcare workers, expressed disappointment over the bill’s signing, highlighting that their submissions and recommendations were disregarded throughout the legislative process. Dr. Simon Strachan from SAHPC emphasized the need for a more patient-centric healthcare system and hinted at potential legal challenges against the NHI Bill.

The unfolding legal challenges and widespread discontent underscore the complexity and controversy surrounding the NHI Bill, reflecting deep-seated concerns across multiple sectors about its viability, affordability, and constitutional alignment.

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