Hearings start into allegations of racial profiling by medical aids

Organisation: Position: Deadline Date: Location:

The investigation into allegations of racial profiling against black and Indian private medical practitioners to be chaired by Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi began on Monday.

The Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) said from Monday to Friday, the Section 59 Investigation Panel, will hear submissions from regulatory bodies and organisations representing medical practitioners. They are Solutionist Thinkers Group, Competition Commission, and Council for Medical Schemes, Board of Healthcare Funders of Southern Africa, Health Professions Council of South Africa, National Healthcare Professionals Association, South African Medical Association, Independent Practitioners Association Foundation, Health Funders Association and the Health Forensic Management Unit.

The organisations will make their submissions and give evidence on the allegations of racial profiling, black listing for payments, blocked payments, demands of confidential clinical information, bullying and harassment, coercion, entrapment and use of hidden cameras.

The submissions and evidence follows allegations made by members of the National Health Care Professionals Association who said they had been unfairly treated and their claims withheld by medical aid schemes based on the colour of their skin and ethnicity.

“We have listened to the complaints and allegations presented in public platforms and we sympathise with the plight of the services providers. We have also listened to the responses from the schemes and administrators. The CMS is happy that one of our country’s respected advocates, Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, has agreed to chair the panel investigating the allegations,” said Dr Sipho Kabane, CEO and Registrar of CMS.

“This investigation is part of our commitment, as afforded in Section 59 of the Medical Schemes Act, to protect members of the public, take any appropriate steps which it deems necessary, including to investigate complaints and settle disputes in relation to the affairs of medical schemes.

“Advocate Ngcukaitobi and two other advocates, Adila Hassim and Kerry Williams, will help get to the bottom of these racial profiling allegations,” said Kabane.

So far, the Section 59 Investigating panel has already received more than 500 written submissions from interested parties.

Any interested persons including juristic persons, entities, institutions and organs of state can still make written submissions which should be concise and succinct, and should include a brief summary of the issues. Submissions should be sent to cmsinvestigation@medicalschemes.com.

Although this time the public hearings will be heard until Friday, medical aid companies and stakeholders will make their submissions later during the next two months, until the end of September. The final report will be delivered by the Investigating Panel on 1 November 2019.

The public hearings, which will be opened to media, will be heard at CMS’ offices: Block A, Eco Glades 2 Office Park, 420 Witch-Hazel Avenue, Eco Park, Centurion from Monday to Friday, 08h30 to 16h30.

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