Dr Afriyie (right), the Chairman of the Health Committee, addressing the press after the meeting with stakeholders
Dr Afriyie (right), the Chairman of the Health Committee, addressing the press after the meeting with stakeholders
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Parliament, stakeholders agree on timely release of NHIS funds - Scheme owed GH¢2.4bn arrears

Members of the Health Committee of Parliament and government agencies in the health sector have agreed on a roadmap to address the late release of funds to the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

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This came to light when the committee met with representatives of the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Finance and the Controller and Accountant General and the Chief Executive Officer of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), Dr Da-Costa Aboagye, to discuss how to facilitate the release of funds by the government to the NHIA to run the NHIS.

As of the time of the meeting, the government was said to have owed NHIS GH₵2.4 billion from July last year to February this year. The government has, however, released almost GH¢700 million to the authority for debts owed for May, June and part of July of last year.

The amount is not part of the outstanding GH₵2.4 billion owed the NHIA by the government.

Correcting the wrongs  

The Chairman of the Health Committee of Parliament, Dr Nana Ayew Afriyie, who made this known to the press in Parliament last Tuesday, said “we are clear in our minds that if these releases and the strategy being put forward progresses, they will clear these arrears”.

“Arrears have been an issue in the social health finances space for a long period of time, and as a committee, we will correct the wrongs,” the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament for Effiduase-Asokore Constituency in the Ashanti Region, said.

In-camera engagement

Dr Afriyie, who also serves on the Finance Committee of Parliament, disclosed this after the members of the Health Committee engaged representatives of four public institutions to discuss the non-releases of funds by the government to the NHIA last Tuesday.

The meeting, initially supposed to be a public hearing, later turned in-camera as the chairman asked the media to excuse the committee to have an in-camera meeting with the officials just before the meeting was to start.

It allowed the members of the committee to adopt a roadmap on how to address late releases of funds to the authority with the stakeholders.

Public hearings

Dr Afriyie explained that the meeting was held following the call by the Minority for a public hearing to be held to discuss the non-release of funds to the NHIA. He, however, gave the assurance that there would be public hearings on subsequent meetings, saying that “because it was the first meeting, we needed to establish some ground rules and it was difficult for us to admit the press.

“So, accept our apology but nonetheless we have made tremendous progress,” Dr Afriyie said.

Respect ground rules

The Ranking Member on the Health Committee, Kwabena Mintah Akandoh, said the delays in releases to the NHIA had become an issue of high public interest. He said it was in that regard that the Minority impressed on the Health Committee to call for a stakeholder engagement to “think through” how the arrears of the NHIS could be settled.

With ground rules established for the subsequent meeting, Mr Akandoh said: “It is our prayer and hope that we are all going to respect what we have agreed on to be able to reduce the arrears owed the NHIS so that it can operate smoothly for the benefit of the whole country”.

“We will continue to play our oversight responsibility as expected of us,” the MP for Juaboso Constituency in the Western North Region, said.

Minority’s call

Mr Akandoh, on behalf of the Minority, called on the Minister of Finance to release and transfer all outstanding payments to the National Health Insurance Fund by the close of the last week of every month to prevent the scheme from being imperilled due to lack of funds.

He also urged the Finance Minister to fully comply with the provisions of the National Health Insurance Act (Act 852) to curb the current bankruptcy facing the scheme. 

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