HARARE – Government has unveiled the text of its draft Medical Aid Societies Authority Bill as stakeholders struggle over issues such as the regulation of the medical sector and bringing down insurance costs for the poor.
Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa has been working for weeks behind closed doors on the legislation aimed at ending squabbles between doctors and medical insurers over remittances by insurers to doctors.
The effort has been plagued from the start by tensions between doctors and medical insurance firms, after doctors last year refused to accept patients with medical insurance due to insurers owing them $220 million, leaving thousands to pay cash or rely on underfunded State hospitals.
The Bill will among other things address issues of conflict of interest involving the establishment of health facilities by insurers, time frames for the remittances of claims and punishment to be meted to those who flout the regulations.
Parirenyatwa told the Zimbabwe Medical Authority (Zima) at their Health Expo last week that the Bill was a big issue, an important bill, and he was prepared to field various views on the proposed legislation.
“What usually happens is you put up a bill or a draft and you go to Cabinet and you tell your colleagues that you want to put up this regulatory authority and you ask them what do you think and you tell them the principles, and we did that and Cabinet accepted.
The next stage of that is to put up the actual draft and have consultations,” Parirenyatwa said.
“And we are doing this in all earnestness, and I hope that you will all take your time, really analyse it, critique it, you are the most affected in that bill, the second most affected are medical insurance companies, but the primary target is your client, so what I’m saying to you is, look at three areas: the issue of conflict of interest, how do you want that addressed.
“Some are saying if it’s a medical insurance, it should never have x-rays, laboratories, NO? Some are saying, NO, they have money, let them invest. We want you to tell us what you think.
“We are looking forward to Zima’s participation in the upcoming consultations and review the recently shared Medical Societies Regulatory Bill, this we believe is going to go a long way in legally, ethically and professionally addressing the challenges the profession has faced in this area.”
Zima president Agnes Mahomva said they had started going through the draft carefully so that they can give their input in meetings to be held this week.
“We think this is the right way to go. We sincerely hope our input; contributions will be taken seriously as we really would not want to be endorsing it so we are looking forward to it,” she said.