Today's Labour News

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TreasuryBL Premium reports that a senior Treasury official told the Board of Healthcare Funders’ (BHF’s) annual conference on Wednesday that the government’s plans for National Health Insurance (NHI) were likely to take many years to implement as there was limited scope to fund it with higher taxes.

The first legislation for the scheme, the NHI Bill, was passed by parliament in December but has yet to be signed into law by the President. How it will be financed has not yet been finalised but the Department of Health (DOH) previously said it expected to raise an additional R200bn for NHI with taxes. “It is quite likely the evolution of NHI will be gradual over many years (and it is) likely it will not be promulgated all at once,” said the Treasury’s chief director for health and social development, Mark Blecher. In the current financial environment, it was difficult to make the case for increasing the proportion of public money set aside for health as it was already high relative to many other countries, said Blecher. Moreover, many countries that spent less on health were achieving better health outcomes, he said, citing Indonesia as an example. “We do need to move forward to NHI but we need to realise the fiscal constraints we are working under … and not being unrealistic about what the public sector can and cannot do. I think colleagues should perhaps not be unnecessarily nervous about the future because changes will be long and involve many stakeholders,” Blecher told delegates. The DOH’s Sandile Buthelezi said NHI would be phased in over time.

  • Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Tamar Kahn at BusinessLive (subscriber access only)

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