The New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Nyiaeso, Dr. Richard Anane says the National Health Insurance (NHIS) Scheme risks collapsing, if the government does not urgently prop the scheme with additional funding.
According to him, the Government missed the opportunity to increase the NHIS Levy by 1% when it recently increased the Value Added Tax (VAT) by 2.5%, bringing the rate to 17.5%.
‘The Government had a good opportunity of increasing the health insurance fund by adding 1% of the 2.5% of the recent increase in VAT which I have been calling for the past three years,’ he said.
He noted that instead of the Government allocating 1% of the 2.5% VAT increment to the National Health Insurance Levy, it rather decided to allocate it to infrastructure development even though, the oil revenue accruals to the State has a component to fund infrastructural development, insisting that the government should prioritize on the needs of the country.
The Nyiaeso law maker made this observation yesterday on the floor of Parliament when contributing to the motion for the adoption of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on the performance audit report of the Auditor-General on the management of claims by the National Health Insurance Scheme.
The audit, according to the PAC, ‘was to ascertain whether the structures put in place and activities undertaken by the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) is ensuring that funds allocated for claims settlement are used beneficially for the intended purpose.’
The report had highlighted that the NHIA was seriously confronted with cash flow challenges as a result of delay in statutory releases from the Government (National Health Insurance Levies and SSNIT contributions) among many others.
It recommended that the Ministry of Finance should make timely releases of the National Health Insurance Levies and SSNIT contributions to the NHIA with due regard to the National Health Insurance Act, 2003 (Act 650) in order not to affect the operations of the Health Service Providers (HSPs).
The Committee also recommended to the NHIA to restructure its operations to ensure an efficient claims management within the National Health Insurance Scheme and also to ensure that funds misappropriated are fully recovered with interest.
The Government in its 2013 Fiscal Policy Statement set aside GH¢1.128.76 million for the NHIA to help run the National Health Insurance Scheme although such amount was inadequate.
However, available records to The Chronicle indicate that out of the GH¢1.128.76 billion, only GH¢831 million has been collected of which GH¢600.48 million has been released as at February 4, 2014.
The remaining amount of GH¢230.52 million is yet to be released to the NHIA excluding the shortfall of about GH¢300 million.
Already, experts in the health sector had predicted that funds into the NHIA would suffer a shortfall in 2014 and had urged the government to explore other avenues of securing funds for the country’s health insurance needs.
Dr. Anane, who had since 2010, advocated the need for the government to increase the NHIS Levy in order to make it more efficient to address the health needs of Ghanaians bemoaned the slow pace at which the Ministry of Finance had been releasing the NHIA’s budgetary allocation to them.
He said the Ministry of Finance does not appreciate what needs to be done to engender confidence in the scheme and are holding unto NHIA’s funds and making them unable to meet claims by the Health Service Providers (HSPs).
Such situation, the former Minister of Roads and Highways noted, should cease saying ‘the Ministry of Finance should not make the work of the NHIA difficult.’
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