The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) notes the Cabinet meeting statement released today, especially on the Medical Schemes Amendment Bill.
The statement says that this Bill amends the Medical Schemes Act 131, 1998 to align it with the National Health Insurance White Paper and the Draft National Health Insurance Fund Bill. This is our preliminary response and therefore we shall issue a more comprehensive statement as soon as the bills are released. However, this cabinet statement, brief as it is, contains issues of concern to us as NEHAWU.
NEHAWU has played a widely acknowledged pivotal role with regard to research, advocacy, public education and campaigning for universal health coverage in the form of the National Health Insurance. Hence, we welcomed and supported the ANC’s “commitment” in terms of the 2014 election manifesto when it stated that the country shall “enter a new phase in the implementation of the National Health Insurance (NHI) through the creation of a publicly funded and publicly administered NHI Fund”. This was the second electoral mandate given to the ANC government to implement the NHI by the masses of our people.
Essentially, the current electoral mandate of the ANC government is for enabling legislative measures to be introduced to create the pooling of the bulk of the health resources under single-fund or payer to secure cross-subsidisation in order to ensure access for the poor, aged and the sick, and to realise universal health coverage. This is an antithesis to the current situation of numerous intermediaries in the form of medical aid scheme that fragment the resources in which those who are not members of medical aid schemes are excluded whilst the bulk of the resources are spend on a tiny minority who are members of medical aid schemes.
We are, therefore, absolutely dismayed and outraged that instead of pursuing the current manifesto commitment and the stipulations of the NHI White Paper itself, it seems as if Minister Aaron Motsoaledi is trying to resuscitated the failed Neoliberal agenda of the 1990s - of a social health insurance instead of the NHI by tinkering with regulations pertaining to medical aid schemes in the current system. The White Paper itself acknowledge that at the centre of our dysfunctional two-tiered health system is not the regulatory issue but a systemic issue in an environment of medical aid schemes as it is impossible to achieve universal health coverage where there is fragmentation and exclusion.
The national union calls upon government not to rush into the implementation of its proposal rather consult broadly as an integral part of ensuring that government listens to its people as this proposal/assertion is against the views of the majority and such are tendencies that are anti to the only ever radical project of post 1994 democratic breakthrough. In this regard, we want to warn government not to give reason(s) to the working class to feel that it is on its own as it is the primary motive force of the national democratic revolution led by the ANC, otherwise if that continues our country shall not be stable and peaceful.
We further advise the African National Congress (ANC) as the ruling party to learn from service delivery protests, student uprising, North West paralysis experiences including the lessons of 2016 local government elections which sent a loud and clear message if it is still interested to retain its power in 2019. As a national union that is transformative in nature and working class in character, we shall do everything in our power to defend the NHI as a universal coverage that ensures a constitutional right to access healthcare system without bottlenecks and limitations of money.
Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat
Zola Saphetha (General Secretary) at 082 558 5968;
December Mavuso (Deputy General Secretary) at 082 558 5969;
Khaya Xaba (NEHAWU Media Liaison Officer) at 082 455 2500
or email: firstname.lastname@example.org Visit NEHAWU website: www.nehawu.org.za