Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, has asked Health Minister Alex Segbefia to use his lobbying skills very well to lobby cabinet to release enough money for the running of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) because the scheme is choked with huge debt which is crippling its operations.
The PAC chairman gave the advice when Mr Segbefia and officials from the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) appeared before the committee on Friday.
The minister admitted that the NHIA owes several health service providers accredited to the scheme in arrears of between six and eight months, and that the funding sources cannot match the growing number of people getting registered into the health insurance.
From the PAC sitting, it was revealed that some of the staff of NHIA had misappropriated some moneys meant for the payment of claims and that it was not surprising that President Mahama had eventually authorised the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) to probe into the activities of the NHIA, leading to the recent arrest of the immediate past chief executive officer of authority, Sylvester Mensah.
The Auditor-General’s report mentioned that the scheme managers at the Obuasi office of the NHIA in the Ashanti Region refused to pay claims amounting to GH¢2,051,747 for health facilities in that district even though the money had duly been released.
At the Konongo-Odumase office of the scheme also in the Ashanti Region, an amount of GH¢5,211,690 was also detected to have been collected from the headquarters and recorded in the cash book without issuing official receipts to support those entries.
The minister said that the recent BNI investigations into the operations of the authority would cleanse the NHIA of any bad nuts.
He said looking at the widening gap of funding, a committee has been put in place to look at how funding could be closed and sustained for the smooth running of the scheme which is very important in the health delivery system of the country..
The chairman said it is important that Mr Segbefia constantly liaises with the Minister of Finance, Mr Seth Terkper, to find alternative ways of supporting the scheme with more funds.
By Thomas Fosu Jnr