Legislators, Cotu oppose new National Hospital Insurance Fund rules

Monday, January 13th, 2020 00:00 |
A view of the NHIF offices. /FILE

The proposed regulations by the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) have raised a storm with the National Assembly Health committee calling for their suspension.

The committee wants NHIF to halt the implementation of the regulations before involving other stakeholders.

Committee chair Sabina Chege said the fund board published recommendations without the approval of the committee, which plays an oversight role in health matters.

 Meanwhile, the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) has issued an ultimatum to NHIF to reconsider the new rules saying it will affect low-paid workers most. 

Cotu described the new changes as punitive and irresponsible measures being pushed by individuals to frustrate Kenyans workers who religiously continue to contribute to the fund.

Speaking yesterday at Solidarity House in Nairobi, Cotu deputy secretary general Benson Okwaro warned the union will not be party to the new guidelines adding they have already written to NHIF for an urgent meeting to clarify the new guidelines.

“It is absurd that the NHIF board has seen in its own wisdom the desire to come up with far reaching changes in the management of its members benefits without any consultations with social partners,” said Okwaro.

According to Okwaro, Cotu contributes Sh32 billion from three million workers who contribute to the scheme monthly.

Some political leaders have also opposed the new regulations.

New regulations

Senators Ledama ole Kina (Narok), Mutula Kilonzo Jr (Makueni) and Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula said the new regulations are discriminatory and do not conform with the law. The legislators said they would reject the new regulations in the Senate.

“About half of the country’s population lives on less than a dollar a day. This means the majority of Kenyans cannot afford health insurance cover offered by other institutions away from the NHIF,” said Wetang’ula.

NHIF moved to implement new regulations on contributions, which weighed heavily on patients who delay paying their monthly contributions but Nicodemus Odongo, the acting chief executive defended the move.

In Kajiado county, residents have cried foul saying that the regulations have left the county government-sponsored Mbuzi Moja Afya Bora initiative in limbo.

The locals said the new rules will adversely affect them because many of them are polygamous. The new rules will only cover only five children and one spouse.

Speaking in Kigumo, Chege said a special sitting will be held on January 26 by the health committee to discuss the recommendations and decide on the way forward.

“We had agreed with the board that once they are done with the recommendations they bring them to us for a review but this did not happen,” she said.

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