Why is the ANC ignoring public outcry against NHI? – Michele Clarke

DA MP says NHI will only benefit the ANC-connected tenderpreneurs already bleeding the public health sector dry

Why is the ANC ignoring the public outcry against the NHI?

6 November 2023

What has become increasingly clear since the Department of Health’s presentation to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on the National Health Insurance (NHI) last week and the number of media interviews that followed the presentation, is that the Department will not see reason, nor explain themselves further than battening down on its tired rhetoric.

The DA, stakeholders, other opposition parties, economists across the political spectrum, and the public have repeatedly asked the ANC government to explain how the NHI would be funded. We have asked how much it would cost. We have asked for an economic impact study to be done. We’ve asked that public health services be improved before attempting this folly. And none of it has made any impact.

The ANC is continuing to sweep aside concerns about the looting of the NHI Fund. They are ignoring the lived reality of millions of impoverished South Africans who are barely scraping by, suffering under one of the most onerous tax regimes in the world, and unable to afford any increases in taxes, especially not if those taxes will never lead to actual improvement of service delivery.

The frontrunner for funding at the moment seems to be the scrapping of medical aid tax credits. This means that a person with one dependent on their medical aid would essentially pay R8 736 more in tax per year (based on the medical credit of the 2022/23 financial year). An individual with no dependents would pay R4 368 more in tax if these credits are removed. This excludes the additional possible tax increases that would further overburden the dwindling tax base.

What the ANC government – apart from Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana who has repeatedly stated that there is no money for the NHI – seems oblivious to is that nobody wants to pay for a medical aid. The private health sector exists based on need, not want. People pay for private health care because they are assured of better service. Had the ANC government not demolish the public health system, the private health system would have floundered and died a long time ago.

In a country whose public health sector has been hollowed out by years of abuse and neglect, and on a budget that presents a vulnerable picture with severe cuts almost across the board, the NHI will only benefit the ANC-connected tenderpreneurs that’s already bleeding the public health sector dry. And no matter how they spin the rhetoric, South Africans will not be fooled.

Issued by Michele Clarke, DA Shadow Minister of Health, 6 November 2023