Minority asks govt to release levy to NHI Fund

 The Minority in Parliament has asked government to release all National Health Insurance Levy (NHIL) accrued to the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) without delay.

The caucus claimed that failure of the Ministry of Finance to release the funds has led to some health facilities to demand patients make upfront payments for medical consumables and services, due to delays in the payment of claims by the National Health Insurance Authority.

Addressing the press at Parliament House on Tuesday, on the threat by Private Health Facilities Association of Ghana (PHFAG), the Ranking Member on the Health Committee, Kwabena Mintah Akandoh, said the delays in the release could lead to preventable deaths at the country’s facilities.

“Delayed releases of NHIL is likely to increase morbidity in persons with hypertension, diabetes, sickle-cell anaemia, HIV and other conditions which require regular intake of medical consumables and services, resulting in undue stress on already overburdened medical facilities.

“If nothing is done, we foresee high mortality rates among pa­tients who lack the resources to pay for the services of healthcare providers or delay presentation at health facilities,” he said.

According to Mr Akandoh who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Juaboso, some patients have already started facing the brunt of the threat and subse­quent implementation by some PHFAG facilities in the country.

“Unconfirmed reports suggest that some facilities have already started passing on these top-up costs to their patients.

“As alarmed as we are by these reports, we are not surprised considering the current economic conditions and the fact that gov­ernment had not responded to the series of statements, appeals and threats made by various players within the pharmaceutical value chain,” he said.

He noted that despite a joint press statement issued by the pharmaceutical industry players early in October, warning that they would suspend their services if they were not paid, government failed to heed their call.

“They cited the unprecedent­ed levels of inflation and the non-payment of claims by the NHIA as reasons for which they were withdrawing all credit lines to health facilities.

“We expected that govern­ment would have intervened with appropriate measures such as trans­ferring to the NHIF all outstanding collections of NHIL and SSNIT contributions as mandated by the National Health Insurance Act 2012 (Act 852) Section 52(1) but this intervention never happened,” he said.

Any further delays in the release of the funds, Mr Akandoh said, could have huge implications not only on human lives but the sustain­ability of the scheme.

Relatedly, in an answer to a question raised on the floor of Par­liament, on possible co-payments by NHIA registered members and steps the Ministry of Health was taking to stop same, the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyemang Manu, said the policy remained fee-free for some category of services.

“However, it persists and the fol­lowing have been given as some of the reason for its recurrence—de­lays in claims payment, perception of unrealistic tariffs and irregular review of tariffs (medicines and ser­vices),” Mr Agyemang-Manu, MP, Dormaa Central, told the House.

An inter-ministerial collabora­tion, he said, was being employed to ensure prompt payment to the facilities.

“In addressing the issues, the NHIA is collaborating with the Ministry of Finance to ensure regular reimbursement to service providers. There will be regular reviews of the tariffs in response to economic conditions,” he said.


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