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NHI: Business gears up for possible legal battle as Ramaphosa set to make 'damaging' bill law

| Legislation

By: Ahmed Areff - News24

Business Unity SA (BUSA) has confirmed that it will consider legal action after President Cyril Ramaphosa signs the controversial National Health Insurance Bill into law this week. 

The organisation, which represents business interests, has repeatedly lamented the state of the bill in its current form, saying previously that it had petitioned Ramaphosa not to sign the bill and to refer it back to Parliament. On Tuesday, it reiterated that the bill was "unimplementable and damaging to the country’s healthcare sector, to the economy more broadly and to investor confidence."

"We fully support the objective of universal health coverage, however, the NHI Bill in its current form is unworkable, unaffordable, and not in line with the Constitution," BUSA CEO Cas Coovadia said in a statement ahead of Wednesday’s signing.

"What is especially troubling is that the president is proceeding with the bill despite extensive constructive inputs made by a wide range of stakeholders, including doctors and healthcare professionals, civil society, public sector unions, academics and business." 

In December, the National Council of Provinces voted in favour of the NHI Bill, paving the way for the president to sign it into law.

Coovadia said that if this version of the bill was enacted it would hamper, not promote, access to healthcare for South Africans.

"Consequently, we will pay close attention to the president’s announcement on Wednesday, based on which we will consider our options," he said.

"Our subsequent actions will be guided by our belief that it is essential that we get the NHI right through all means still at our disposal, including appropriate legal interventions, so that the legislation that is finally implemented is in the best interest of our country, and all her people, for generations to come."

Coovadia previously told News24 in an interview that if the bill was implemented in its current form, it could result in a flight of doctors from South Africa.

He also said in February’s interview that the only explanation for rushing the bill into law in its current form was the upcoming election.

"What will essentially happen will be that he [Ramaphosa] will be taken to court for this if he signs the bill. There's no two ways about it. I'm not saying we will take him to court. We will consider that, but I can assure you that certain interests will take him to court and this thing will get stuck in court because there are constitutional issues related to this, and that is not the way to move forward on our health problems," Coovadia said at the time. 

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