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Medical aids violating constitutional rights of black practitioners, says report

The Section 59 panel has released a scathing report on how black, coloured and Indian practitioners were racially singled out as likely to commit fraud.

Picture: 123rf.com

JOHANNESBURG - The Section 59 panel that was commissioned to investigate claims of discrimination against black, coloured and Indian healthcare professionals by medical aid schemes said that the allegations were true.

It has released a scathing report on how black, coloured and Indian practitioners were racially singled out as likely to commit fraud.

The panel, chaired by Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, released its findings after the High court in Pretoria dismissed an application by government medical scheme, GEMS, to block it.

Advocate Ngcukaitobi said that there was no evidence that algorithms alone targeted black professionals but there was discrimination.

READ: Interim report: Medical aids discriminated against black practitioners

"Between 2012 and 2019, which is the period of the investigation, black practitioners and by black, I mean African, Indian and coloured black practitioners, were more likely to be found to have committed fraud, waste and abuse than non-black, in other words, white counterparts."

The report said that the schemes were violating constitutional rights.

ALSO READ: Pay back the money, says Ngcukaitobi to medical aid schemes

"Not that fraud, waste and abuse should not be combatted but it is crucial that when it is combatted, the procedures that are followed are fair procedures, so a doctor needs to be given a fair warning and the opportunity to contest the allegations."

The panel said that it did not find evidence of deliberate discrimination but the resulting actions taken marginalised black professionals more than their white counterparts.

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