Paul Obi in Abuja
Following the impediment of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) of the federal government to the implementation of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and other emergencies related agencies, the National Assembly wednesday said plans are underway to remove the NHIS and others from TSA.
The Chairman House of Representatives Committee on Health, Hon. Chike Okafor, stated this during a threeday NHIS management retreat in Kaduna, stressing that due to TSA, the NHIS quest to implement universal health insurance or the teeming Nigerian population hangs in the balance.
Represented by the Deputy Chairman of the committee, Hon. Muhammad Usman, the lawmaker stated that the House would soon initiate a bill to effect such changes, adding: “it is the legislative agenda of the eighth assembly to ensure that easy access to healthcare for all Nigerians is achieved and it is my resolve to give every necessary legislative assistance to ensure the realization of the scheme’s statutory mandate.
“As such it is my resolve as a legislator to call for the removal of the National Health Insurance Fund from the TSA as it is wrong based on the Act establishing the scheme. This fund is contributors’ fund and should not be warehoused in the TSA but should be reinvested and the proceeds used for cross-subsidy in the informal sector. I would like to introduce a legislative bill to remove it and will need your support in achieving that,” Usman said.
He observed that “such commitment to the future of Nigeria will be the greatest achievement by the health sector and the eighth assembly Legislative Health Agenda. Sadly to note that the feedback we get today from the beneficiaries of the scheme has turned out to be a story of “water water everywhere but no water to drink” as such the theme of this retreat has presented an opportunity for us to tell ourselves the truth if we must reposition and achieve UHC in Nigeria.
“There is an obvious perceived disservice by some Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs) in payment of capitation to the various Primary providers and this has led to an obvious abuse of the scheme and threatened the confidence and trust of the beneficiaries. We must shift our attention to the end users, the beneficiaries, we must do everything to care for all and stand by the guiding principles of the National Health Acts (2004) and deliver health care services to all Nigerians.”
Similarly, Chairman Senate Committee on Health, Sen. Olanrewaju Tejuoso expressed the readiness of the senate to enact a law that would exempt NHIS and other agencies with critical needs from the TSA.
Tejuoso contended that the importance of NHIS would be lost should the TSA continue to impede the implementation of the programme, as it would deny Nigerians affordable healthcare services.
Speaking, NHIS Executive Secretary, Prof. Usman Yusuf, regretted the poor performance of the scheme, stating that misappropriation of funds and other scams in NHIS so far surpassed the oil subsidy scam.
“What we have here is not healthcare financing. This is worst than fuel subsidy. I need to see monies returned by HMOs, through the NHIS that were not used.
The waste I see, the impunity I see, and the political patronage I see makes me want to throw up. The resident’s mandate is crystal clear: “Go and make the NHIS work for all Nigerians.”