Why is the ANC shutting down debate on the NHI? - Mike Waters

DA MP says health portfolio committee chairperson refused to allow questions to the DG

The attitude displayed by the Chairperson of the Health Portfolio Committee today is disappointing to say the least. Instead of encouraging a constructive discussion around the National Health Insurance (NHI) Green Paper, the Chairperson closed down the debate.

The Chief Whip of the Democratic Alliance (DA), Ian Davidson, will be writing to the Speaker to raise our concerns over what seems to be a concerted attempt to prevent meaningful discussion on the NHI.

It is the duty of members of the Health Portfolio Committee to ask questions and seek clarity on aspects of all presentations before the Committee. It is unacceptable that an issue as important as the NHI is not open for discussion.

Today, the Chairperson closed the meeting before the Director-General of Health answered any questions relating to the NHI proposal. The questions included a request for more details on the package of services to be offered by the NHI, the independence of the proposed Office of Standards Compliance, access of people in rural areas to quality healthcare and the role of medical aids under the NHI.

The DA representatives on the Committee had expected to gain clarity on these and other aspects of the Green Paper. This is crucial in order for us to formulate a constructive response to the proposed NHI. In the coming weeks, the DA will be formulating a comprehensive position in consultation with party structures and other stakeholders.

The DA shares the national government's goal of improving access to quality healthcare for all. Whether or not the proposed NHI achieves this will be the central question we shall be interrogating in the weeks ahead. We hope that the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee will give opposition parties the space to engage constructively with the Department's proposals

Statement issued by Mike Waters MP, DA Shadow Minister of Health, August 17 2011

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