Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

The keenly awaited Medical Schemes Amendment Bill will not be published for comment until the Cabinet has approved the National Health Insurance Bill, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says.

The minister said earlier in May that the Medical Schemes Amendment Bill aimed to protect consumers and would introduce a uniform tariff and scrap co-payments for a defined basket of benefits.

Healthcare providers are anxiously waiting to see the details of this proposal, with doctors’ groups warning that a cap on their fees could prompt an exodus from the profession.

The Cabinet announced on Thursday that it had approved the Medical Schemes Amendment Bill, fuelling speculation it could be published in the Government Gazette within days.

However, in an interview with Business Day on Monday, Motsoaledi said the two bills were “twinned” and would be published together, once the Cabinet had approved the National Health Insurance Bill.

The earliest it could do so would be at its next meeting, on June 6, he said.

Motsoaledi was not at last week’s cabinet meeting, as he was attending a meeting of the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.

The bills could be published in the Government Gazette before the Competition Commission’s health market inquiry releases its interim report, which has once again been delayed.

The inquiry said it now planned to publish its interim report on June 28, instead of on May 31.

It was established to investigate the dynamics in the private healthcare market and to determine whether there were barriers to competition that impeded patients’ access to care.

The industry will be particularly interested in its findings on the drivers of rising private healthcare costs and whether it recommends a mechanism for regulating prices.

The inquiry said in April it had postponed publication of its interim report to May 31 to allow its experts time to deal with the issues raised by stakeholders in response to reports it published in December.

Inquiry director Clint Oellermann said that additional time was needed to finalise the inputs of stakeholders.

“In the interests of procedural fairness and to ensure that the inquiry process has been thoroughly validated, the panel has taken the decision to delay the release of the provisional report,” Oellermann said.

The provisional report would be released for comment on June 28.