DA questions constitutionality of NHI Bill
Publish date: 16 August 2019
Issue Number: 85
The DA wants an urgent answer on whether the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill passes constitutional muster, says a News24 report. DA leader Mmusi Maimane said he had written to National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise to urgently request that she instructs the parliamentary legal services to obtain a legal opinion on the Bill before the National Assembly’s Health Committee gets to grips with it. He has also asked the DA's legal team for an opinion on whether the Bill is constitutional. The party is questioning whether the Bill takes away provinces' constitutionally enshrined right to handle health services. ‘It appears the NHI Bill proposes a system that provinces will not be able to opt out of. Health services, as defined, will be bought and determined at national level, with the Minister of Health effectively becoming the single authority over the health sector in the country,’ Maimane said. ‘On face value, it appears the Bill actively seeks to curtail this constitutionally granted shared power between the national and provincial spheres of government, and we believe that the Bill and the system that it proposes is overly intrusive on the constitutionally enshrined rights of provincial legislatures to also legislate on matters relating to health care.’ He added: ‘We shouldn't be spending money on something that doesn't pass constitutional muster.’ And DA spokesperson on health, Siviwe Gwarube, said the matter could end up in the Constitutional Court, because 'as MPs we need to prove we've exhausted all measures'.
Shares in the biggest medical aid administrators continued to fall yesterday as details of the NHI Bill drove uncertainty in the market around the future of private healthcare. A BusinessLIVE report notes AfroCentric was down 4.03%; Momentum marginally better, down 2.19%; with Discovery having taken the biggest hit since Thursday last week, down 11.31% in late afternoon trade. Since the details of NHI were released last week, Discovery’s shares lost a total 16.22%, chopping about R13.5bn from its market capitalisation, which was sitting at R69.54bn on Monday.