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Doctors' body denies fee abuses

Jun 13 2011 11:53 Sapa

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Johannesburg - The SA Medical Association (Sama) on Monday denied media reports that doctors were abusing the "current environment to enrich themselves".

"I completely reject the content of this article and deny that this interview was about specialists or doctors in general," Sama chairperson Norman Mabasa said, referring to a report in the Sunday Times.

The Sunday Times reported that Sama had gone to the Competition Commission because of excessive fees charged by some doctors.

According to the report there were 8 000 specialists in South Africa who, combined, earned R16.4bn.

Mabasa said there was no active discussion between Sama and the Competition Commission on tariffs. The only discussion the association had with the commission was about the Doctors' Billing Manual (DBM).

"Neither Sama nor I have ever suggested that specialists or any other medical practitioners are 'milking' the system as is claimed," he said.

"The interview that took place was in fact about the DBM and the Competition Commission advisory and its effect on the private healthcare industry in general."

Mabasa said there was an "enormous appetite" to portray doctors as the prime perpetrators of high medical costs and any other stakeholders as being beyond reproach.

He said Sama's position was clear. It supported the move to exempt the health sector from competition law and the creation of a body that would be responsible for tariff negotiations in the private sector, provided that the process was transparent.

Sama believed that doctors, general practitioners and specialists alike, were not appropriately paid.

"What is unequivocal is that medical funds spend R10.8bn on non-health care costs, twice what they pay to general practitioners," Mabasa said.

"We shall continue engaging with relevant authorities to ensure that an environment of certainty prevails."
sa medical association  |  competition  |  doctors  |  fees
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