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Suspended NHIF board, CEO reinstated

By Vitalis Kimutai | May 6th 2012

By Vitalis Kimutai

Medical Services Minister Anyang' Nyong'o on Sunday reinstated the initially suspended board and CEO of the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF). He accused Head of Civil Service, Francis Kimemia of overstepping his mandate.

Richard Muga remains suspended as the Chairman of NHIF and Nyong’o has made recommendations that President Mwai Kibaki takes actions against him (Muga).

Nyong’o said he would consult with PM Raila Odinga on the possibility of having an efficient monitoring Unit to carry audit.
Delloite and touché will carry out thorough forensic audit of the parastatal.

The controversy that had rocked the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) took a new twist when suspended board members insisted they were legally in office as Head of Civil Service Francis Kimemia allegedly had no powers to sack them.

Kimemia suspended the board and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr Richard Kerich at the weekend following a row over allocation of contributor's fees to various hospitals in the country to provide universal health care under a new medical scheme.

Mr Wilson Sossion, the vice chairman of the suspended board on Sunday told The Standard that the power to suspend the board and the CEO was vested on Medical Services Minister Professor Anyang Nyong'o.

Sossion, the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) chairman and Reverend Michael Sande, the representative of Christian Health Association (CHAK) at the board said they would remain in office until the Minister de-gazettes their appointment as required in law.

"Kimemia has overstepped his mandate as he has no locus standi to dissolve the board. There is a clear case of political interference in the running of NHIF by powerful people in government who are after the contributor's money running into millions of shillings," Sossion said.

He claimed that medical service providers who did not benefit from funding by NHIF were fuelling the row at the organization in the hope that they would influence future allocations.

“Civil servants and teachers who have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with NHIF to pave the way for increased deduction of their contributions to enable the rolling out of universal health care scheme are not complaining,” Sossion said.

Sossion said that KNUT and Kenya Union of Civil Servants (KUSC) were the only ones that had negotiated for a voluntary subscription to the new health scheme, adding that the Auditor General was free to probe the NHIF books of accounts and come up with a report which would be tabled for the public to scrutinize.

“Kenyans should learn to separate politics from technical and professional matters. We should allow NHIF to roll out the medical scheme that would benefit majority of Kenyans and reduce the high mortality rate,” Sossion said.

Sande who is the chairman of the board’s Finance Committee dismissed claims by Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) Secretary General, Francis Atwoli that there had been an attempt to bribe him so as to drop the push for the health care scheme to be suspended.

“Atwoli should stop seeking cheap publicity and politicizing an issue of this magnitude. If there were attempts to bribe him, why has he not gone to the police to record a statement and why can he not name those involved?” Sande wondered.

Sande said that NHIF had officially communicated to Atwoli in writing inviting him for negotiation over the matter after he lost a protracted court battle and that the claims of bribery war far-fetched.

Choice of Meridian and Clinix hospitals

Dr Kerich, said the Meridian and Clinixs hospitals were picked in a competitive process in a tender that was advertised through the media.

“Everything the management of NHIF did was with full consultation and blessings of the board. There were no underhand dealings as has been claimed,” Kerich said.

Kerich revealed that 71 medical health providers had been short listed and the contributor’s advised to pick from the ones they preferred which dictated the amount of money allocated.

“All NHIF did was to allocate money to the facilities as per the number of contributors who chose to be treated alongside four of their family members,” Kerich revealed.

Professor Nyong’o reinstated Dr Kerich on Friday shortly after board chairman Dr Richard Muga suspended him following a boardroom row. The Minister suspended Muga instead.

But assistant Minister Kazungu Kambi wrote to President Mwai Kibaki in protest demanding the board be disbanded. It led to Kimemia announcing the suspension of the board and the CEO.

Atwoli has said that he would fight for the suspension of the new rates until all the issues raised are addressed to the satisfaction of all stakeholders.

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Cartoon : 06.05.2012
Cartoon : 06.05.2012
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