The C4MS’s Circular 62 of 2015 informs us that “following various submissions relating to the proposed package” received by the C4MS as well as the DoH, it is retracting the Low Cost Benefits Package as set out in Circular 54. Presumably this means that any medical schemes who were planning to introduce LCBO products in 2016 have to put them on ice until the regulator can get its act together.

Quite a few parties have voiced their displeasure with the minimum benefits package for Low Cost Benefit Options. The SACP calls it inadequate and SAMA is of the opinion that it offers no “clear health and financial protection”. Others complain that they were not consulted. This is a standard South African whine.  <sarcasm>Apparently everybody has the right to stall any process they like because they were not personally invited.</sarcasm>   However, the criticism of a process  that was not very consultative and inclusive is not entirely without merit.

In February the C4MW went public with Circular 9, which set out their intensions and asked for feedback. Mostly they just wanted volunteers to present at the “workshop” they held in Cape Town. Another workshop for Johannesburg was promised but never occurred. We then got Circular 37 which gave us a better idea of what the C4MS’s thinking around LCBOs was and offered the first opportunity stakeholders had to really provide meaningful feedback.  The C4MS got some expert advice for free which it then proceeded to ignore while drawing up Circular 54.  “Look at this incredible solution that we have crafted!” it cried and dumped it on the world.

At the very least the regulator should have put the framework and minimum benefits package out for another round of submissions before pulling the trigger. It should also have published some of the feedback it had received.  For an organisation obsessed with process over substance this oversight betrays the regrettably poor attitude that Eco Park has towards the rest of the world.

The embarrassing result is that the C4MS now has to publicly call “backsies!” due to what is, no doubt, enormous political pressure.  This is something you never want to do. Not even on the playground.


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