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NHIBL Premium reports that delegates to the annual Board of Healthcare Funders (BHF) conference heard on Thursday that public sector unions that have voiced support for the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill are poised for conflict with their members.

This was because they have in effect given the green light for a reduction in employee benefits, Vishal Brijlal of the Clinton Health Access Initiative claimed. The NHI bill, currently before parliament, is the government’s first enabling piece of legislation for its plans for universal health coverage, which aims to provide services that are free at the point of delivery for all citizens. The bill proposes a central NHI Fund that will buy services on behalf of patients, financed by reallocating medical scheme tax credits, general tax revenue, and a new payroll tax and surcharge on personal income tax. All of these measures have a direct impact on public servants, the majority of whom belong to medical schemes subsidised by the state. “Organised labour has been vociferously against increases in VAT, yet they are saying they support increased taxation to fund NHI,” Brijlal pointed out. Presenting an analysis of the 117 oral submissions made to parliament’s portfolio committee on health in the past year, Brijlal cited the submission of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) as an example. Nehawu has said the government should scrap the tax rebate for medical scheme members, and redirect the money to the NHI fund, according to Brijlal. But, Cosatu’s Matthew Parks said Brijlal had misunderstood the submissions of the trade union federation and its affiliates. “We know there would have to be compromises. Whenever you are dealing with human beings there are competing interests. The whole point is how to balance them,” he said.

  • Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Tamar Kahn at BusinessLive (subscriber access only)

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