Parliament, Tuesday, 27 August 2019 – The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, has said reports that the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill has been suspended are false and untrue.
Dr Dhlomo said he is alarmed at a letter circulating in the public domain which indicates that the committee has suspended the process, pending advice from the state legal advisor on the constitutionality of the Bill. “The person named Mr Neil Kirby, who is claiming to represent a firm of attorneys, is not known to the Department of Health, nor is he representing the committee,” Dr Dhlomo said.
“We want to distance ourselves from those utterances and want to re-assure the public that the process of the NHI Bill has been tabled in the National Assembly. The Speaker has presented and referred it to the committee,” said Dr Dhlomo.
On Thursday 29 August, the committee will receive a presentation on the Bill from the Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize. Thereafter, parliamentary processes will begin, which will include a public consultation process. “We will announce shortly the various areas and provinces in which the public hearings will take place, but we are still consulting on this,” said Dr Dhlomo.
The department has indicated that a lot of consultation with legal advisors took place during the drafting of the Bill.
Dr Dhlomo said: “I have met one of the state law advisors on this matter and I am comfortable with the advice. I therefore want to reiterate that there is no person by the name of Mr Neil Kirby who is the spokesperson of the committee. All official committee statements, including statements on the NHI Bill, are only released by the chairperson. Reports on the suspension of the NHI process are fake news”, he said.
Under the NHI, the government will provide a package of comprehensive health services for free at private and public health facilities as part of its bid to provide more equitable access to quality healthcare.
ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON HEALTH, DR SIBONGISENI DHLOMO.
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