Union federation Cosatu has harshly criticised the Department of Health’s proposal to introduce a multi-payer system for National Health Insurance (NHI). The system‚ according to a statement from Cosatu‚ is an attempt by the department to "water down and destroy" the NHI.
The statement said the department’s director-general‚ Precious Matsoso‚ has been meeting with leaders of the medical aid schemes to rope them into being part of the NHI.
"Cosatu is adamant that, in introducing the NHI‚ there should be no public-private partnerships (PPPs)‚ including the outsourcing of public operations in health facilities‚" the statement said. "We will fight any attempt to introduce any multi-payer system where, instead of a single [NHI] fund that is intended to ensure the rich [subsidises] the poor‚ there would be a number of separate funds or medical schemes organised according to incomes of people and others operated by the private sector."
Cosatu said it is committed to ensuring that all workers‚ "who are, at the moment working for private medical schemes, and are going to be transferred to the public service under a single fund. The department is converting the NHI into the South African version of Obamacare‚ where the priority is to meet the needs of private health profiteers instead of those of poor people".
Cosatu said there were "shocking inequalities and problems" in SA’s healthcare system‚ and vowed to fight to ensure that the NHI favours the working-class. "The Department of Health is betraying the poor by handing over the NHI to private hands and is also betraying the voters‚ who were promised a single payer NHI in the 2014 national elections ANC manifesto‚" it said.
Contacted for comment, Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi said: "It is extremely unfortunate for Cosatu to say that without speaking to me." Motsoaledi said Cosatu shouldn’t take what appeared in a newspaper as official policy: "I am still very much committed to NHI. I don’t know where Cosatu gets the multi-payer idea from."
Motsoaledi said the implementation of the NHI would be a process and not an "event", so the NHI "is going to live alongside medical aids. It’s a process of implementation".