OUTA asks Parliament for extension on NHI written comment deadline

By Janice Roberts

The National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill is one of the most important pieces of legislation to be tabled in Parliament in recent years. It will have a profound impact on our health system and, indeed, our lives. It is therefore, essential that all forms of public participation be as exhaustive as possible. In light of this, OUTA has written to Parliament requesting an extension for the deadline on written submissions.

“This is a complex matter that requires multi-stakeholder engagement,” says Dr Heinrich Volmink, OUTA’s Executive Director for Policy. “We have therefore written to the Chairperson of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Health, Dr Sbongiseni Dhlomo, appealing for an extension of the deadline for written submission for all South Africans.”

On 30 August, the Portfolio Committee called for written public comments by 11 October.

This represents a relatively short period for a very important component of the public engagement process. OUTA has suggested that a 90-day period be considered. We believe that this is reasonable, as the development of the NHI proposal has taken almost a decade thus far (the NHI Green Paper was introduced in 2011) so the process need not be rushed at this critical stage.

OUTA believes that the goal of universal health coverage is essential. However, South Africa has unique challenges and civil society needs to be part of finding the solution.

“It is our hope that the extension of the deadline will be granted so that organised civil society will have more time to develop solid, well-researched and coordinated written input,” says Volmink. “This will aid in the vital process of finding a workable plan for the much-need reform of our health system and, ultimately, help us achieve the goal of high-quality universal health coverage for all who live in South Africa.”

OUTA intends making a written submission on the NHI and has called on supporters to send us comments for our input.

The progress of the NHI Bill can be tracked through the Parliamentary Monitoring Group here.

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