1 September 2019

NHI fund will not be another Eskom, says health minister

Business Day 26 August 2019 – Zweli Mkhize assured a hospital conference that the national health insurance fund won’t have the power to take risks or raise debts

National Health Insurance (NHI) will be rolled out in a manner that is affordable and will not pose the kinds of risks to the economy that state-owned electricity generator Eskom has done, health minister Zweli Mkhize said on Monday. “It is a fallacy to postulate that the NHI will bankrupt the country. This will be an entity in terms of schedule 3 of the PFMA (Public Finance Management Act), which means unlike an entity like Eskom, it will not have the power to take risks and engage in raising debts and other speculative financial transactions.

Have Your Say – NHI Bill

Sunday Times 1 September 2019 – The Portfolio Committee on Health invites interested parties and stakeholders to submit written comments on the NHI Bill

In addition to written comments you may indicate your interest in making a verbal presentation. Written submissions must be made no later than 11 October 2019.

Aid schemes ‘intimidate’ doctors

Sunday Independent 1 September 2019 – Health professionals seek to testify in camera at inquiry probing racial profiling

Health professionals fearing intimidation by some medical aid schemes have requested to give evidence in camera at the inquiry set up to investigate the racial profiling of black doctors by the schemes. After hearing this submission, Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi ruled that the evidence should be given in camera. However, warned that this should not set a precedent.

SA nursing crisis ‘tsunami’ warning sounded

Sunday Independent 1 September 2019 – We could be headed for an NHI system with lots of services and dramatically improved technology, but no nurses.

This warning was sounded by Dr Sharon Vasuthevan, president of the Nursing Education Association and vice-chairperson of the SA Nursing Council. The 70 562 enrolled nurses and 63 368 enrolled nursing auxiliaries would not grow as training for them was discontinued in 2015. This left 59 673 professional nurses holding a four-year diploma or degree, 35 113 general nurses with a two-year diploma, and 33 656 specialised nurses. Not a large group.

Fence-sitting not an option

Sunday Independent 1 September 2019 - ASI brings business, civil society groups together in fight against corruption, pleadges R1m to The Thought Lab

ASI says corruption has shaken the very core of our young democracy. Busisiwe Mavuso, chief executive of Business Leadership SA (BLSA) pulled no punches. She spoke about how “the last 10 years the economy was at the edge of a precipice ans our R5 trillion economy was beset with a plethora of poor governance practices.

NHI Bill is constitutionally sound, says state attorney

Business Day 29 August 2019 - Parliament given assurances the bill is rational, in line with SA’s international commitments and does not affect provincial powers

The state attorney’s office has assured parliament that the government’s first piece of draft legislation for implementing universal health coverage is constitutionally sound. Its provisions were in line with section 27 of the constitution, which obliges the state to progressively realise the right to access health services. The bill was rational, and in line with SA’s international commitments, Johaar said.

South African taxpayers will bear the brunt of National Health Insurance

BizCommunity 29 August 2019 - The NHI Bill has sparked a great deal of controversy. The impact on private healthcare, quality of service and the government’s ability to manage such a complex system have been widely questioned.

One of the toughest questions being asked is: how on earth will it be funded? The memorandum on the objects of the Bill explains that the NHI will be financed in various interrelated phases as determined in consultation with the National Treasury. Costing estimates vary from the health department’s “guesstimated” R259 billion last year, to the Institute of Race Relations calculation of R450 billion.

#HASA2019: Collaboration - the art of possible

BizCommunity 29 August 2019 - The Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre (WDGMC) is proof that collaboration between the public and private healthcare sector is not only possible, but has the potential to create a world-class medical services.

“Minor miracles in equitable, quality healthcare provision can happen when unlikely partners join forces,” said Dr Sue Tager, WDGMC CEO at the Hospital Association of South Africa, (Hasa) conference in Cape Town. The facility was born out of concern about the future of sub-specialist training and how hi-tech equipment could be funded in the public sector. In addition, there were no funded posts for sub-specialist training and it was difficult to retain consultants in academia.

Mkhize says government 'won't delay' implementation of NHI

The Star 29 August 2019 - Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has stuck to his guns that the government will not delay the implementation of the National Health Insurance in the country.

Opposition parties have been objecting to the NHI saying the government would not be able to implement it because the healthcare system was in a state of collapse. They said the government must fix the hospitals first before beginning with the rollout of the NHI.

SAHPRA working to clear licensing backlogs dating to 1992

Medical Brief 28 August 2019 - The South African medicines control body is working around the clock to clear a backlog of new licensing, dating back to 1992 reports Health-e News.

Currently, there are 16,000 applications in need of processing. According to SAHPRA’s head of backlog clearance taskforce Davis Mahlatji, there are 8,300 new registrations and 7,500 variation applications. Processing this timeously has been hindered by the fact that the body receives 4,700 new applications every year. Mahlatji said applications older than five years make up half of the outstanding applications.

CMS gives medical schemes merger the green light

Medical Brief 28 August 2019 - The Council for Medical Schemes has given the green light to the merger of CompCare Wellness Medical Scheme and Selfmed.

This comes after the members of the two schemes voted in favour of the amalgamation and the establishment of a new scheme, which will be known as CompCare Wellness Medical Scheme.

Merger of BPSA and Momentum Health under investigation

Medical Brief 28 August 2019 - The Competition Commission has launched an investigation into the merger between a small medical scheme for employees of oil company BP Southern Africa (BPSA) and South Africa’s third-biggest scheme Momentum Health

The investigation is after a complaint from BP pensioners alleging the deal will scale back their benefits. Business Live reports that at the heart of the complaint is an allegation that the transaction will end the subsidies they receive from BP, benefits they say were given to them in perpetuity.

#HASA2019: AI is a game changer in attaining universal health coverage

BizCommunity 28 August 2019 - Artificial intelligence (AI) has tremendous potential for reaching the universal health coverage goal of access to quality healthcare, not only in South Africa, but also the rest of the continent.

Dr Tapiwa Chiwewe, research manager for IBM Research in South Africa, said that AI is augmented intelligence, which assists clinicians and its human operators. AI is now so advanced that its error rate is 3%, which is 2% lower than human beings. This is dependent on accurate data being inputted for processing.

NHI Bill is not suspended, says Dhlomo

News24 27 August 2019 - Reports that the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill has been suspended pending legal advice are false and untrue, portfolio committee on health chairperson Sibongiseni Dhlomo said on Tuesday.

Dhlomo expressed his alarm about a letter circulating in the public domain that indicated the committee had suspended the process, pending advice from the state legal adviser on the constitutionality of the bill.

Thebemed medical scheme placed under curatorship

Business Day 27 August 2019 - Concerns over the scheme’s financial viability, its appalling solvency ratio and, thus, its ability to cover claims, all informed the decision

A small medical scheme called Thebemed has been placed under provisional curatorship by the Gauteng Division in Pretoria over concerns about its financial viability, following an application by the medical schemes regulator.Its solvency ratio had plummeted to 4.2% by the end of March. Thebemed had 23,511 beneficiaries at the end of 2017, according to the most recent Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) annual report.

#HASA2019: After NHI - South Africans can still choose medical aids

BizCommunity 27 August 2019 - One of big questions being asked ever since National Health Insurance (NHI) was first mooted is what medical aids will look like and whether they would even exist under NHI.

According to the NHI Bill currently before Parliament, medical schemes can offer ‘complimentary services’ not offered under NHI. Commentators have interpreted as cosmetic procedures or unaffordable essential services such as rare diseases with a poor prognosis. Dr Anban Pillay, deputy director general of the National Department of Health, (NDoH), replied that ‘complimentary services’ referred to patients who saw a private practitioner and did not claim from the proposed NHI could self fund or go to an alternative private funder. Broomberg interpreted this as meaning that if a woman was pregnant and needed antenatal care and elected not to use the NHI, a medical scheme could fund her.

Takeaways from the Limpopo medico-legal symposium

BizCommunity 27 August 2019 - On the 3 August 2019, Norton Rose Fulbright presented at a medico-legal symposium hosted by the Health Professionals Group for the Limpopo Department of Health 

My colleague, Natasha Naidoo and I discussed patient record keeping and HPCSA complaints. Patient record keeping is about employing methodologies and techniques that will aid in mitigating risks. HPCSA complaints create significant risks for medical professionals. Medical professionals who are found guilty or admit guilt for unprofessional conduct may be fined. The fines range from R1,000 for supersession to R70,000 for negligence or fraud. The most severe penalties that the HPCSA can impose are a suspension from practising or performing acts specifically pertaining to profession for a specified period; and permanent removal of the professional’s name from the HPCSA’s register.

Country cannot afford NHI, Nedbank economist tells tax indaba

Fin24 26 August 2019 - South Africa cannot afford to implement National Health Insurance, Nedbank economist Busisiwe Radebe told delegates at the 2019 Tax Indaba in Sandton on Monday.

Radebe told delegates at the indaba that the country's flagging economy was not in a position to afford the NHI, which will be rolled out in two phases over a nine-year period. She was speaking on the same day that Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize told a different conference in Cape Town it was a wrong to argue that South Africa could not afford NHI.

R15.7m of Polmed's funds 'looted' by board of trustees

The Star 26 August 2019 - Millions of rand in alleged “unlawful looting” of the SAPS’s medical scheme Polmed have drawn the ire of scores of police officers, who have slammed the level of coverage received.

Claims are that Polmed, which covers 680000 members and beneficiaries, has “unlawfully” awarded roughly R15.7million to its board of trustees (BOT) over three years in alleged contravention of its own rules. Allegations are also that former national police commissioner General Riah Phiyega was “illegally” elected on to the BOT.

Publication date: 9/1/2019