Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has defended the government’s approach to crafting the contentious National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill, which is to be tabled in the cabinet next week. The bill is a vital step in achieving the government’s ambitions of providing universal health coverage, as it paves the way for a central fund that will be used to purchase services on behalf of patients. The government has promised that NHI services will be free at the point of delivery, but exactly what benefits will be covered and how they will be funded has yet to be spelt out. The bill is now mired in controversy, after a leaked Treasury letter revealed that its officials were butting heads with the president’s adviser, Olive Shisana, over a host of measures she and her team had changed after the public comment period on the bill closed on September 21. Political tension over the bill rose last week after health director-general Precious Matsoso disclosed that she had been sidelined and had not...

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