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14.06.2007 General News

Parliament to debate NHIS hiccups

By The Independent

While Parliament may or may not debate the highly explosive energy crisis this week, the House is still set to be rocked in the days ahead by another heated debate over a motion calling on the House to probe reported financial irregularities that have hit the implementation of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

That has become inevitable as three Members of Parliament have filed a private members' motion compelling the House to set up a committee to investigate the financial irregularities that have come up in the implementation of the scheme over the last few years.

A memorandum addressed to the Clerk to Parliament and signed by Minority Leader, Alban Sumani Kingsford Bagbin is urging the House to grant the minority the opportunity to raise on the floor for debate what it terms operational challenges that have bedevilled the implementation of the National Health Insurance Scheme.

The Independent says while the memorandum is couched in polite and nice language, snippets of information it picked up in the lobbies of the House indicate that the minority were massing up arsenals of information in readiness to debate the majority on the NHIS, which they see as a trump card the New Patriotic Party (NPP) wishes to use as a campaign message for the 2008 elections.

The idea of calling for the debate, The Independent learnt, is to start punching holes in that trump card of the NPP now so as to render it unfit to fly by campaign time next year.

The three Members of Parliament set to sponsor the motion are Hon. Lee Ocran, Member of Parliament for Jomoro and Ranking Member for Health; Hon. Alhaji Muntaka Mubarak, Member of Parliament for Asawase, and Deputy Ranking Member for Health, and; Hon James Klutse Avedzi, Member of Parliament for Ketu North.

The Business Committee chaired by the Majority Leader, Hon. Felix Owusu-Agyapong is expected to brainstorm on the impact and effect of the motion before it decides to table it for debate on the floor of the House.

The paper said as at press time on Wednesday the Clerk to Parliament, Mr. Ken Tachie was yet to respond to the request by the Minority Leader.

But The Independent says there were continuing moves to sabotage the implementation of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) in the Volta Region.

The paper said its Volta Regional correspondent, Adzivor Selorm Christopher reports that health workers in the region have refused to change their attitude in spite of an earlier report the paper ran on the issue and corrective steps taken by scheme authorities.

While persons registered for the scheme are supposed to attend hospitals free, hospital officials at some of the hospitals in the region charge ¢35,000 per patient including those registered with the NHIS as consulting fee.

Another problem noted by the paper is questionable claims.

Officials of the Ho Municipal Mutual Health Insurance Scheme is compelled now to subject all bill~ submitted for payment as claims to thorough vetting.

In an interview, the Scheme Manager, Mr. Prosper Kofi Pi-Bansa, said, the health workers are only refusing to change their attitude, and the problem he has come to notice, is not that they do not understand the concept of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

He revealed that the Scheme in the Ho Municipality has so far registered 33,779, and added, many more people would have been registered but for the fact that the people in some of the communities they visited were hostile.

Mr. Pi-Bansa disclosed that the scheme has so far paid out ¢2.6 billion as claims.

He also complained about some of the problems they are facing. He said, the structure housing the scheme in the Ho municipality is not spacious enough, and clients that come to transact business have to stand outside, sometimes in the scorching sun.

Mr. Pi-Bansa therefore appealed to various entities including the National Health Insurance Council to come to their aid by providing them with an adequate office complex for the smooth running of the scheme in the region.

He however pointed out that despite all the odds and moves to sabotage the scheme, "we are still progressing."

Source: The Independent