Saturday, September 19, 2009

Outstanding Arrears Choke NHIS

The National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) and the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) are reeling under a shocking GH¢115 million arrears left behind by the erstwhile New Patriotic Party government (NPP). The National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration had from January to June this year released a whopping GH¢ 142,483,546.60 to the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA). This represents 96.2 per cent of government’s budgetary obligation for the period. Regrettably, this releases have gone into clearing of the arrears of the 2008, thereby generating an indebtedness to healthcare providers for the period March 2009 to date to the tune of GH¢120,933,849.The huge indebtedness to healthcare providers, is currently crippling the scheme nationwide. A letter dated August 23, 2009 and intercepted by The Heritage, detailed the cry of the scheme's boss, Mr. Sylvester Mensah to government. The letter reveals a very sorry situation that can collapse the rather laudable health policy which has and continues to save the lives of thousands of Ghanaians. According to the NHIA boss, the scheme urgently 'requires a minimum of GH¢75million within the next 24 hours, to avert a looming massive withdrawal of healthcare service delivery to NHIS subscribers, a situation that would cause a major setback to the NHIS programme.' Amongst the many challenges that are also threatening the existence of the scheme the letter stated, is the headache of how to clear an outstanding debt of GH¢115,567,612 owed the scheme as at the end of December 2008. As the Acting Chief Executive puts it, 'the precarious state of the National Health Insurance Fund, and the impending threat this poses to the NHIS as a programme to secure affordable healthcare services to residents of Ghana.' Mr. Mensah further laments that the current situation of the National Health Insurance Scheme and its resultant effect is that 'healthcare providers across the country have run out of essential logistics to provide healthcare services to our subscribers; most providers are turning away NHIS subscribers whilst others have threatened to close down, situations which have consequences for the government.' According to the acting chief executive, 'any further delay in advancing funds to the NHIA would severely damage the confidence that people have in the NHIS and derail Government's policy of a one-time premium payment expected to commence late next year.' 'We also urge that urgent mechanisms are put in place to settle all outstanding payments owed to the NHIA, whilst ensuring prompt transfers of all future funds due to the NHIA, Mr. Mensah appealed to the sector ministry in a distress letter dated August 23, 2009.
Source: The Heritage -Ghana

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