Wednesday, 17 April, 2024
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NHI scheme will open doors to corruption

The possibilities for corruption in the National Health Insurance scheme are endless as it will effectively put around R600m in funding under the control of a single institution – the National Department of Health, argues Wits School of Governance Professor Alex van den Heever.

During his State of the Nation address, President Cyril Ramaphosa had said that despite the threat of legal challenges, the Bill would be signed into law soon, and that he was “looking around for a pen to sign it”.

“If he finds his pen, we will have a series of court cases that will probably end up decimating the Bill,” Van den Heever told Newzroom Afrika.

The Bill seeks to collapse the provincial healthcare system and centralise it in a national institution that does not exist yet while collapsing private healthcare funding, reports Daily Investor.

“You are disturbing the entire current health system and attempting to create a third health system which you claim will be better, but there is no rationale for that kind of move,” said Van den Heever.

“The concern is that the real reason is to consolidate power in one organisation that will result, in its ultimate form, in R600bn being under the control of the Health Minister. That is just wrong.

“It is the design that has collapsed pretty much everything that we have in the state at the moment.”

The concern many people have about the NHI is the potential for rampant corruption, he added.

“The possibilities for corruption are endless. People are concerned because they feel this is largely the purpose behind it – that this is not intended to improve healthcare.

“It is about vested interests who have an interest in essentially capturing parts of the state.”

It would be naive to think otherwise, he said.

“The state remains captured. It is not a state that has moved away from systemic corruption. It is deeply embedded in the way everything operates at the moment.”

NHI in ‘safe hands’

Health Minister Joe Phaahla has tried to downplay concerns over the NHI from the private healthcare sector and others who believe the scheme will ultimately fall to government ineptitude.

He said their fears were “overblown”.

“Those who fear the NHI will become a state-owned enterprise, some say it will be an Eskom, let me tell you this – you can ask the Auditor-General, in this last audit, all public health entities either got clean audits or got unqualified audits, without exception,” he said.

“So, we can assure you that the NHI will be safe in our hands.”

Contrary to the minister’s comments, though, the AG’s report on national and provincial government performance assessment for the 2022/23 financial year noted that a quarter of auditees in the year under review provided unreliable, incorrect or no evidence for the achievements they reported.

This included the National Department of Health, which had four disclaimed opinions and one outstanding audit out of 10. This is hardly “clean or unqualified audits, without exception”, as the minister posited.

In her report, the AG specifically called out the Health Department, noting that “health facilities are not coping with the demand for health services, and the safety and security of citizens and businesses are under threat”.

“We reported material findings on the performance reports of most departments in the education, health and human settlements sectors, with most of the worst audit outcomes – adverse and disclaimed opinions or conclusions – being in education and health.”

 

Daily Investor article – NHI corruption possibilities are endless (Open access)

 

See more from MedicalBrief archives:

 

Health committee’s new chair says technology will thwart NHI corruption

 

NHI ‘will lead to emigration, corruption’

 

With each corruption scandal, public distrust of NHI grows

 

NHI may not be best solution, Finance Minister says

 

 

 

 

 

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