Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi is set to present two controversial bills to the public today, as part of his plan to provide free, quality healthcare to all. But the bills will require a major restructuring of other legislation, and a "massive reorganisation of the health system".
According to News24, the Medical Schemes Amendment Bill and the National Health Insurance Bill will be presented on Thursday. But they will require amendments to 12 other pieces of legislation in order to be legal.
The NHI bill is the first piece of enabling legislation for the National Health Insurance (NHI), while the medical schemes bill will reportedly overhaul the medical aid industry to create standard rates.
Motsoaledi reportedly told MPs on Tuesday that "most of the laws that you have painstakingly cobbled together since the advent of democracy (will have to be changed)... We have already identified 12 Acts that will have to be amended by this House to accommodate NHI".
"[This] will necessitate a massive re-organisation of the whole healthcare system, both public and private, and completely change the relationship between our spheres of government, but also change the relationship between the rich and the poor," Motsoaledi reportedly said.
On Wednesday, Motsoaledi reportedly said he expected a "hurricane" over the bills. According to Business Day, he said the NHI is the "land question" of health.
"In the same way the land issue is raging all over the country‚ NHI is going to rage in a similar way‚ not only in the field of health but in the economic and social lives of our people‚" the minister said in a speech to the National Council of Provinces on Tuesday.
"No country can fight poverty‚ unemployment and grow the economy with a very sick population. Hence every citizen‚ to reach their potential in all other aspects of their life‚ needs good-quality‚ equitable healthcare‚ regardless of who they are. To achieve this‚ equitable and fair financing of health is an inevitable occurrence‚" he said.
The bills have been approved by cabinet but have not yet been published in the Government Gazette for comment, TimesLive reported. Consumers and industry are reportedly eagerly awaiting the details of each bill.
While the NHI bill is expected to provide for the establishment of an NHI fund, it will not provide the details of how the NHI will be funded.
While the industry has mostly lauded the minister's intentions as laudable, there are concerns about the economic implications. According to Times Select, the SA Private Practitioners' Forum raised concerns that the NHI is projected to cost about 12.5% of GDP, which means that half of the budget will be spent on healthcare.