By Christiana Ekpa
The House of Representatives yesterday asked the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to direct all Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) to pay, within three (3) months, all outstanding debts owed all healthcare providers in Nigeria.
The House also urge the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) to ensure that private Medical Practitioners should, as a matter of urgency register their clinics with the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) as accredited health providers of medical services.
The Green Chamber mandated the Committees on Health Institutions and Healthcare Services to carry out holistic review of the NHIS to encourage more participation by Nigerians with a view to attainment of Universal Health Coverage for Nigerians and report back within six (6) weeks for further legislative action.
The House reached this resolutions Wednesday during plenary following motion on; ‘Failure of the National Health Insurance Scheme to Function Optimally, moved by Valentine Ayika (PDP, Anambara) and five others
Presenting the motion on behalf of others, Ayika said, the House notes that the NHIS was established by an act of the National Assembly to ensure that every Nigerian has access to quality and affordable health care service through the provision of affordable health insurance.
He stated that the House is aware that the Scheme has a Presidential mandate to achieve Universal Health Coverage by 2015 but has failed in that regard, as available information shows that it currently boasts of a little over 6 million enrollees as at 2019 despite regular budgetary allocations.
Ayika added that, “the House also aware that 50% of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund which represents 1% of the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Government available for the Scheme, part of which was released in May 2019, yet the scheme still fell short of its targeted objectives.
“The House worried that despite the importance of the Scheme towards the attainment of Universal Health Coverage for Nigerians, it does have a substantive Executive Secretary, but has been under the management of an ‘Overseeing Director’ appointed from the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, and this has affected many critical and important operations of the Scheme; including:
“Non-approval of the 2017/2018 Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) reaccreditation exercise report which has those HMOs not fit for operations but have continued to provide services despite their deficiencies; non-approval of the 2018 Staff promotion exercise; with the likely consequent delay in the conduct of the 2019 exercise with the attendant staff dissatisfaction; non- pragmatic approach to dealing with contentious issues with various stakeholders; delays in approval and release of revised guidelines, drug and professional service price lists which have been long overdue for review, and failure to conduct the periodic quality assurance and improvement exercises on Health Care Providers and Health Maintenance Organizations”.