Kirgotty: NHIF deductions could be based on basic pay

NAIROBI, KENYA: Deductions to the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) medical scheme might be based on basic pay after all.

NHIF Chief Executive Officer Simon Ole Kirgotty on Wednesday said the law would be amended to pave way for deductions based on basic pay.

"We shall see how the NHIF Act shall be amended," he said.

Kirgotty however said that even when deductions are based on basic pay, the rates shall be revised to reasonable levels.

"Even when we base it on basic pay we shall still work out the acceptable rates for various categories," said Kirgotty.

Section 15 (3) of the NHIF Act, 1998 says: “A contribution ...shall be at such rate, depending on the person's total income, as the Board, in consultation with the Minister, may determine."

The statement by the NHIF chief is seen as a 'softened stand' on the controversial deductions debate that has seen teacher unions threaten to call a strike in June.

It is also seen as a measure to check the planed teachers strike due in about month.

The Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) also weighed in demanding that the deductions be based on basic pay.

Central Organization of Trade Unions (Cotu), which has expressed support for the enhanced rates, also maintained last week that any deductions must be on basic pay and not gross salary.

Knut secretary general Wilson Sossion yesterday welcomed the move by NHIF management to amend the Act but noted that some level of seriousness must be seen.

"What are the timelines? And whom has he told? Where is the commitment?" said Sossion on telephone from Korea.

FKE Executive Director Jacqueline Mugo on Wednesday said she does not trust the statement by Kirgotty.

"He should write to us so that we can see the commitment. He has been saying that, and in fact the last meeting we had his legal council maintained that the Act is clear on deductions," said Mugo.

"For now we shall take it at face value until we see the commitment from NHIF," she said.

Sossion said the pertinent issues still remain even if the Act is amended.

"What is the government's contribution to this scheme? It cannot be based solely on members contribution," he said.

"Kirgotty said the flat rate of Sh 320 was revised to enable NHIF also provide outpatient services.

Self-employed members will contribute some Sh500 under the new rates.

And for the State employees, the rates graduated up to Sh 1, 700.

"We want to know how much the government is contributing towards this scheme. If teachers are contributing 1.5 per cent the government must pay double that in the co-pay spirit," he noted.

Sossion also said the major reforms at the Fund must also be completed for Kenyans to trust the management of their money.

"NHIF has a history and unless they reform we cannot give them our money," said Sossion.


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