Ranking Member on Parliament’s Health Committee, Kwabena Mintah Akandoh

The Minority in Parliament, have accused government of derailing from the objective of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), and plundering it into a state of ‘medical comatose’.

According to the Minority, the current NPP administration, under President Akufo-Addo, has subjected the Scheme to poor financial management, hence the need for measures to redeem the sinking Scheme.

The concerns of the Minority, were contained in a press statement issued on Tuesday, May 10, 2022.

The statement, which was signed by a Ranking Member on Parliament’s Select Committee on Health, Kwabena Mintah Akandoh, also criticised the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, for failing to report to Parliament on the Scheme every six months as required by Section 52 (1) of the Act that regulates the NHIS.

“Although the Scheme has struggled since its inception, to meet claims by active members from service providers, the recent misapplication of funds collected as levies and SSNIT contributions for other government projects in addition to increases in noncore activities of the fund, has placed the fund into medical comatose.

Every health insurance scheme requires a constant flow from its funding streams and elbow room to invest a portion of its inflows if it were to stay viable, whilst meeting its mandate. We will demonstrate to you that the actions of this government are undermining this crucial objective”, portions of the statement read.

The Minority added that, “under President Nana Akufo-Addo, lodging of the NHIL and 2.5% of SSNIT contributions into the National Health Insurance Fund has been left to the dictates of the Finance Minister in contravention of Section 52(1) of the National Health Insurance Act 852 which states that, ‘The Minister responsible for Finance shall within thirty days after collection of the levy, cause the levy to be paid directly into the fund and furnish the Minister responsible for Health and the Authority with evidence of the payment’.

Neither has the Minister accounted to Parliament bi-annually (every 6months) as expressly required by Section 52(2) which also states that ‘the Minister responsible for Finance shall present to Parliament, every six months, a report on payment of levies into the Fund’.

Whilst in opposition, the then flagbearer of the New Patriotic Party, Nana Akufo-Addo, claimed that the National Health Insurance Scheme was dead and that he was coming to revive it. However, his annual payments towards the National Health Insurance Scheme tell a different story”.

The Minority further alleged that, the Scheme has been immersed in huge debts, which is stifling its operations.

This is in sharp contrast with an earlier claim by the Scheme in April that, it is not in debt.

It was alleged that the Private Health Facilities Association of Ghana, had threatened to withdraw its services partially to NHIS members if long-standing arrears are not settled.

But the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), Dr. Lydia Dsane-Selby denied the allegations.

Dr. Dsane-Selby, said the Scheme for now owed service providers, including private health facilities from September to December, 2021, summing up to more than GHC360 million.

“I will therefore be surprised if a service provider says we owe them up to a year or from 2017 arrears or that their processes and payments have unduly delayed.

So if they have facts to defend their case, they should pass through our right channels and email addresses, and we will investigate and address that”, she added.

She disclosed the status of the NHIS claims payment in an engagement with the media in Accra, after media reports indicated that the Authority was turned away by Parliament, when they appeared to account and make claims for the next payment.

The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), was established by the Government of Ghana in 2003, to provide equitable access and financial coverage for basic health care services to Ghanaians.

Speaking on the packages of the NHIS, the CEO then said it had added family planning and childhood cancers to the areas covered, explaining this disease is 90 per cent curable unlike the case of adults, bringing the total cure rate for cancers in Ghana to 35 per cent.

Dr. Dsane-Selby, on linking the National Identification Card (Ghana Card) to the NHIS Card, said universal health coverage was about leaving no one behind, therefore, the more the health system and NHIS had data on those enrolled, the more they could design strategies to bring healthcare to the doorstep of everyone.

But despite these earlier assertions, the Minority at its presser on Tuesday, May 10, bemoaned the poor state of the Scheme and urged government to roll out measures to restore the effectiveness of the NHIS.

“We cannot continue to lie our way into solving critical national problems. We cannot also continue to ignore flagrant violations of laws enacted to ensure good healthcare for all Ghanaians.

We cannot allow the future of the scheme to be hijacked by Nana Akufo-Addo and his law-breaking Finance Minister. The National Health Insurance Scheme is collapsing not because of inadequate funds or inadequate legislation, but purely as the result of poor public financial management of the fund.

We will like to remind our Bible-quoting Finance Minister to read what Jesus said in Mark 12:17, ‘…Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s…’ and do accordingly. Give funds collected in the name of the National Health Insurance Scheme to the National Health Insurance Scheme period”, the statement concluded.