The Portfolio Committee on Health resumed its virtual oral public hearings on the National Health Insurance Bill [B11-2019] this week, continuing the virtual public hearings that ended in December 2021, when Parliament closed.
The committee commenced this leg of the public participation process on the NHI Bill on 18 May 2021. The virtual oral public hearings provide an opportunity for stakeholders who had expressed interest to make oral presentations on their written submissions.
Stakeholders who have been participating in the public hearings include professional associations, civil society organisations, faith-based organisations, researchers, lobby groups, academics, traditional healers, public health entities, statutory bodies, government departments, sector experts, healthcare funders, medical aid schemes, healthcare administrators, hospital groups, political organisations, labour unions and other interested stakeholders.
The virtual public hearings follow on from provincial public hearings, which took place between 25 October 2019 and 24 February 2020. These included visits to 33 district municipalities across all nine provinces (three to four district municipalities per province). The public hearings took place from Friday afternoon to Monday evening so as to allow maximum participation. There were 11 564 attendees at the public hearings and 961 submissions were made, which represented 8.3 percent of those in attendance.
About 135 stakeholders had expressed interest to make oral presentations. To date, a total of 100 organisations/ stakeholders have orally presented their written submissions to the committee.
The NHI Bill was introduced in Parliament in August 2019 and it was subsequently referred to the committee for consideration. The NHI Bill seeks to realise universal health coverage for all. This means that every South African will have a right to access comprehensive healthcare services free of charge at the point of care at accredited health facilities, such as clinics, hospitals and private health practitioners.
The committee said it notes the submissions made by the various stakeholders. Members reiterated that their engagement is to listen and hear what the public inputs are regarding the Bill.
Today, 28 January 2022, the committee will continue its oral virtual public hearings at 10:15 am.