- Health minister appearsÂ Thursday
By James Emejo in Abuja
The House of Representatives Committee on Healthcare Services has issued a two-day deadline to 35 Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs) to present their audited accounts to the committee.
The Chairman of the committee, Hon. Chike Okafor, told THISDAY that the ultimatum was in line with ongoing investigation into alleged mismanagement of N351 billion paid to Health Maintenance Organisation (HMOs) between 2005-2016.
He said out of the 59 HMOs which received payments from the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) within the past 11years, only 24 of them made their accounts available to auditing consultants appointed by the committee to ascertain the exact number of firms which benefitted from the disbursements.
He said: â€œAs we announced on the final day of the public hearing on the allegations of fraud in health insurance administration and the maltreatment on enrollees on NHIS, the committee sent auditors to Lagos State to thoroughly scrutinise the books of HMOs.
â€œThis was done in order to compare the figures the NHIS said it paid HMOs overtime to what they actually received. So far, the auditors have gone through the accounts of 24 of them, with 35 of these companies yet to meet with those we sent.
â€œThe NHIS provided us with all the documents to show how much they paid, but we cannot conclude the investigation without checking what the HMOs received and this is why we have given them tillÂ WednesdayÂ to allow for a checking of their account.
â€œBut if they donâ€™t comply, we will be compelled to move on because, we are bent on submitting our reportÂ on Thursday. The HMOs are the only parties delaying us, because like I said, NHIS has given us documents on the monies paid and weâ€™ve also had good responses from hospitals and care givers.â€
He,Â however,Â said the committee in adhering to the principle of fair hearing, had decided to give defaulting HMOs up untilÂ WednesdayÂ to make their books available to the auditors working on itsÂ behalf.
Meanwhile, there are indications that the Minister of Health, Prof.Â Isaac Adewole will appear before the committeeÂ ThursdayÂ after he was summoned by the House in relation to the three-month suspension of the Executive Secretary of NHIS, Prof. Usman Yusuf by the minister.
Okafor said: â€œWe have written the minister to invite him to appear before us as mandated by the House. The date given in the letter isÂ Thursday, July 27. I have been in touch with the minister and the last time we spoke, he told me he was travelling to IbadanÂ on FridayÂ for the burial of the late Executive-Director of UNFPA.
â€œHe didnâ€™t tell me he wouldnâ€™t be able to appear before the Committee. The right procedure is for him to write the Committee, if he will not appear before us and as I speak with you we havenâ€™t received any letter from him, so I believe we will be meeting with himÂ on Thursday.â€
Adewole stirred the honets nest when he reportedly suspended Yusuf barely one week after the latter publicly testified before the committee during an investigative hearing and exposed alleged fraud in the NHIS programme.
The House, which urged the minister to immediately recall the executive secretary, further summoned him, noting that the development was capable of discouraging anyone to testify before further investigative proceedings of the House on order to expose corruption.