Request for updated impact assessment on NHI Bill – Michele Clarke

DA MP says financial impact it could have on the post-pandemic tax base, which grows smaller every day, is enormous

DA to urgently request updated Socio-Economic Impact Assessment on NHI Bill

8 April 2022

Note to Editors: Please find an attached soundbite by Michele Clarke MP.

The DA will submit a formal request to the Socio-Economic Impact Assessment Unit (SEIAU) in the Presidency that a new risk assessment for the proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill be conducted.

The most recent Socio-Economic Impact Assessment (SEIA) was done in 2019 – before the Covid-19 pandemic decimated State coffers and put tremendous strain on the public health care system.

In Gauteng alone, the public health care system is buckling under the pressure of dealing with patients unable to receive treatment at the burned down Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital. It hardly seems possible that quality universal health care would be feasible. The myriad of health care problems there and in the rest of the country must be fully addressed before universal health care is explored.

According to the outdated 2019 SEIA, the projected cost of the NHI would be R256 billion. The financial impact this Bill could have on the post-pandemic tax base, which grows smaller every day, is enormous. A third of the population is dependent on social grants. Only 9% of South Africans are contributing to 40% of South Africa’s total tax revenue. With no recent data to determine the impact that Covid-19 has had on the tax base, it is not difficult to see why funding the NHI from the fiscus will be difficult to achieve. South Africa’s national debt and unsustainably high budget deficit makes it extremely impossible to consider adding a new multi-billion rand expenditure item in the form of the NHI.

We must have this comprehensive assessment before continuing with this Bill. It will affect the poorest of poor, break the back of the tax-paying middle-class and potentially bankrupt our economy.

Last week, the Department of Health did not seem to be concerned that NHI can potentially cripple the economy. In a parliamentary portfolio committee meeting on health, the deputy director-general in charge of NHI at the Department of Health, Dr Nicholas Crisp, said, "government needs to spend as much on healthcare as it decides to". While this seems sound in theory, it is simply more populist rhetoric designed to make the ANC government seem caring, while creating another avenue for looting and the ultimate destruction of public systems to the detriment of the people of South Africa.

The truth is, the poverty cabinet is willing to dump every single taxpayer into further poverty to fund their pipe dream. If the ANC government were successful administrators of universal health care, private medical care in South Africa would not be a booming business. The proof of their incompetence is in the present public health care system, which had all the potential in the world to be a service of excellence, but is instead failing millions of South Africans every day. Creating legislation to strip South Africans of their right to choose quality health care will not create universal health care, only universal misery and suffering.

Issued by Michele Clarke, DA Shadow Minister of Health, 8 April 2022