#Budget2017: NHI paper being finalised

#Budget2017: NHI paper being finalised

By Nicola Mawson, 22 February 2017, iol.co.za.

Parliament – Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan says the National Health Insurance white paper and funding model are being finalised.

The controversial scheme to provide all South Africans with access to health care at a great cost to the country is currently moving towards the next phase, Gordhan told Parliament on Wednesday.

Gordhan says government is moving towards the next phase of the implementation of National Health Insurance.

“We are committed to achieving universal health coverage, in line with the vision of the National Development Plan.”

The Health Department’s budget vote indicates that R5.2 billion has been allocated for national health insurance over the next three years, most of which is allocated to the national health insurance indirect grant.

A total of R1 billion is earmarked for the recruitment of health professionals and to ensure that 1.5 million chronic patients access their medication through a centralised, chronic medicine-dispensing and distribution system, the department’s vote says.

Over the next three years, R967.8 million is allocated to implement the patient-registration system and an electronic stock management system from the national health insurance indirect grant,.

Gordhan says eleven NHI pilots have yielded valuable insights, on which government can now build.

These include:

  • The design of contracts with general practitioners,
  • More effective chronic medicine dispensing,
  • Strengthening district health services through clinical specialist teams, ward-based outreach teams and school health services, and
  • Supportive information systems.

In the next phase of NHI implementation, an NHI Fund will be established, says Gordhan.

Its initial focus will be on improving access to a common set of maternal health and ante-natal services and family planning services as well as expanding the integrated school health programmes, including provision of spectacles and hearing aids.

It also seeks to improve services for people with disabilities, the elderly and mentally ill patients, including provision of wheelchairs and other assistive devices.

The service package financed by the NHI Fund will be progressively expanded, Gordhan says.

“In setting up the Fund, we will look at various funding options, including possible adjustments to the tax credit on medical scheme contributions.”

Gordhan says additional details will be in the mini Budget in October.

“Taking into account the 160 submissions received from the public, the National Treasury and the Department of Health are working together to revise and finalise the NHI White Paper and the longer-term financing arrangements.

“There will be consultations with stakeholders over the period ahead on reform of the medical scheme environment, including consolidation of public sector funds,” Gordhan says.

“Government is committed to increasing investment towards health promotion targeting noncommunicable diseases alongside the implementation of the sugary drinks tax, such as diabetes screening and nutrition education.”



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