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MPs push Treasury to allocate funds for referral hospitals for waived bills

 National Assembly's chair Robert Pukose (left) shares a word with Principle Secretary Medical Services Harry Kimtai and  Public Health PS Mary Muthoni during a joint Committee sitting on April 26, 2024. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Amid concerns over proposed budgetary cuts to the Ministry of Health, members of Parliament have requested that the National Treasury allocates resources in the upcoming and subsequent financial year budgets as a waiver, at referral and specialised hospitals that provide care to indigent patients.

MPs who sit in the National Assembly Committee on Health argue that the facilities, despite waving medical bills for thousands of patients, are never compensated by the National Treasury for incurred huge costs.

Led by Endebess MP, Dr Robert Pukose, who chairs the committee, the members stated that these institutions cannot be allowed to languish in huge debts due to waiving bills for patients.

The institutions include Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH), Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral & Research Hospital (KUTRRH), and National Spinal Injury Referral Hospital.

“I urge the National Treasury to examine the budget to identify funds to support these institutions. They cannot continue waiving bills for patients while languishing in huge debts. These patients have received food and medication provided by the institutions. We must find a way to compensate them,” said Dr Pukose.

He made these remarks during the review of the 2024/25 Financial Year Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure and the 2023/24 Financial Year Supplementary Estimates II for the Ministry of Health.

“Is it possible for us to create a budget line item specifically for addressing indigent patients? These hospitals are waiving bills for nearly everyone, and this burden is becoming unsustainable,” he added.

Dr Pukose stated that due to the growing number of indigent patients, Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) has accumulated a debt of Sh8 billion, Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) has accrued Kshs 6 billion, and Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral & Research Hospital (KUTRRH) has amassed Kshs 600 million.

“We can create a budget line item for these hospitals to allocate funds for waiving patient bills, even if it means providing each hospital with Kshs 100 million. It would be a good start,” he suggested.

According to KNH’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr Evanson Kamuri, Kenyatta National Hospital continues to provide care for indigent patients despite being owed a cumulative amount of Kshs 8 billion.

“So, what we are doing is finding alternative methods to manage the facility's finances while continuing to provide essential services,” Dr Kamuri informed the committee.

Dr Kamuri emphasised that until effective mechanisms for managing indigent patients are established, referral facilities will continue grappling with challenges.

He highlighted that, unlike private hospitals, public facilities like KNH must provide services to all Kenyans regardless of their financial situation.

“We cannot deny services to Kenyans who come to KNH, and similarly, we cannot adjust services to cost because most Kenyans cannot afford them at full price,” the CEO

Seme MP, James Nyikal, urged the relevant facilities to compile the pending debt arising from waiving bills for indigent patients to prompt the National Treasury to compensate them for the services rendered.

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