The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Western Cape has called for further public hearings on the controversial National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill.
The bill is under consideration by the Western Cape parliament, and several public hearings on the bill have been held.
DA Western Cape spokesperson on health Gerrit Pretorius said that the NHI Bill envisions a radical overhaul to the South African healthcare system.
"Under the proposed system, private healthcare would be all but eliminated, and South Africans would be obligated to seek healthcare at a facility of the state's choice. The bill also envisions the creation of a single, government-administered fund to pay for virtually all of South Africa's healthcare needs – a proposition which engenders the possibility of massive, unprecedented corruption," he said.
Last Thursday, the provincial legislature completed the final of seven well-attended public hearings throughout the Western Cape.
While some members of the public stood in support of the bill, several people raised questions regarding the workability and funding of the proposed legislation.
Several attendees stated that they had had to travel vast distances at great personal expense and inconvenience to attend the hearings and expressed concern that others may not have had the time or resources to do so.
"While the Western Cape is a vast province, every effort should be made to ensure that every resident of the province is afforded their constitutionally protected right to have their voice heard. This is especially true in the case of legislation such as the NHI Bill, which has triggered much public debate and has the potential to massively impact the future of South Africa's healthcare system and financial stability," Pretorius said.
He said it was clear that further hearings were necessary if proper attention and care was given to this legislative process
"I will engage with parliamentary staff to plan more public hearings in areas of the Western Cape which have yet to be covered," he stressed.
The bill is currently with the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) after the National Assembly passed it in June, despite strong opposition from the private healthcare industry and opposition parties.
The NHI will create a single fund to which those earning an income will contribute, probably through a payroll tax.
The Western Cape government has been vocal about its stance on the NHI Bill.
MEC Nomafrench Mbombo in July said the country needed universal health coverage (UHC), which means free healthcare for everyone.
"NHI is a money bill; it doesn't say anything about UHC," she said at the time.