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Sifuna wants new health insurance scheme deductions capped at Sh2,000


County Public Accounts Committee member and Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna at the KICC in Nairobi on June September 18, 2023. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna wants deductions for the proposed health insurance scheme capped at Sh2,000.

Additionally, the Senate Deputy Minority Whip is seeking to have employees of the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF), which could soon be scrapped, retained as the nation transitions into a new health insurance scheme.

In amendments presented to Senate Clerk Jeremiah Nyegenye, Sifuna also proposes the Social Health Insurance Bill, 2023, currently at the Senate, amended to have the deductions implemented on a graduated scale.

The new scheme could see Kenyan households fork out 2.75 per cent of their salaries in deductions, a figure that has no upper limit.

The ODM secretary-general wants Clause 27 of the bill, which highlights the deductions, amended to introduce the cap.

"I have two issues with the Social Health Insurance Bill currently before Senate: It doesn't say how much premium Kenyans will pay and we all know this government's voracious appetite for taxation; it requires current employees of  NHIF to reapply for their positions once the bill passes," Sifuna said of the new scheme in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

He also proposes an amendment to the First Schedule, which contains proposals to recruit new members into the Social Health Authority that the bill seeks to create.

 National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) headquarters in Upper Hill, Nairobi. [File, Standard]

"...the staff of the Fund are eligible to apply for the positions advertised by the Authority and may be considered for appointment," Paragraph 3 of the First Schedule that Sifuna wants deleted reads in part.

The bill further offers employees of the NHIF not appointed in the new recruitment the chance to require or be redeployed within the public service. 

"A person who immediately before the commencement of this Act was an employee of the Fund under the National Health Insurance Fund Act (now repealed) shall be an employee of the Authority as if appointed under this Act, and all benefits accruing to an employee under the National Health Insurance Fund Act (now repealed) shall continue to accrue to that employee under this Act," Sifuna's amendment to the First Schedule reads in part.

The National Assembly has approved the bill that will see the NHIF scrapped and if the amendment is adopted, the bill would need concurrence from both Houses of Parliament.

President William Ruto has previously sold the new scheme as necessary for achieving universal health coverage, arguing that the NHIF was not viable.

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