The government has begun consulting stakeholders with health insurers, as it steps up efforts to craft enabling legislation to regulate the functions of medical aid societies.
BY MUNESU NYAKUDYA
Health ministry permanent secretary Gerald Gwinji told doctors’ associations in Harare that his department would widen the consultations before making submissions to the Attorney-General’s Office as part of the Medical Aid Societies Bill.
“We will be consulting with other stakeholders including the insurers themselves and other consumers on separate occasions … and at the end we will go back with the recommendations to the Attorney-General’s Office,” he said.
“This is a framework that covers the various areas that need to be covered. We suggested more sections because there are areas that need to be altered, areas that need to be strengthened and areas that need to be clarified.”
Gwinji urged participants at the meeting to come up with a quality position paper.
“The law is the law and once it is in place, it becomes a law, sometimes it removes us from the comfort zones to uncomfortable zones, but it is the law. What we are looking at is putting in place an Act that is fair and which makes sure that we provide, as providers, a service that is conducive to the environment,” he said.
Gwinji added that it was incumbent upon various stakeholders to make sure their needs would be captured in the Act.
Another ministry official, Tonderai Kadzere, said the Bill would seek to address loopholes in the current Act.
“The Bill seeks to provide for the establishment of the Medical Aid Authority, confer functions on such authority in relation to registration and control of certain activities of medical aid societies, to provide for the appointment of the Registrar of Medical Aid Societies, to protect the interests of members of medical aid societies, to amend the Medical Services Act [Chapter 15:13] and the Income Tax Act [Chapter 23:06], and to provide for matters incidental to or connected with the foregoing,” he said.
Kadzere added that the law would address unfair practices by funders to service providers, including, failure to reimburse in time, directing patients to specific providers and conflict of interest in investments.