Save hospitals from NHIF debt burden

Tuesday, February 27th, 2024 00:30 | By
NHIF Building in Nairobi. PHOTO/Print
NHIF Building in Nairobi. PHOTO/Print

Reforms initiated by President William Ruto’s administration will play a significant role in shaping his legacy.

If he succeeds, he will be remembered as a leader who came up with ideas that positively transformed the lives of Kenyans.

Though the reforms, which propose the establishment of a new fund pooled from workers’ salaries, have been criticized for lack of inclusion and haphazard implementation, Ruto has vowed to proceed with his Universal Health Coverage (UHC) plan.

But will it succeed where earlier attempts to provide affordable healthcare for citizens have been elusive?

Former presidents Mwai Kibaki and Uhuru Kenyatta made bold attempts to implement affordable healthcare but failed, with the most recent being four years ago when the government piloted UHC in Kisumu, Nyeri, and Isiolo and Machakos counties.

The pilot came with challenges, making the counties fall short in achieving their goals.

But even as the President soldiers on with his healthcare plans, emerging reports from hospitals, both public and private are not encouraging, to say the least.

The National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF), whose existence is scheduled to expire by the end of the year to pave the way for the Social Health Insurance Fund (SHIF), owes hospitals in the country a cumulative Sh32 billion that has left them swamped in debts while operating on shoestring budgets.

Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) alone, which plays a crucial role in major emergency and referral cases, is owed a whopping Sh1.6 billion.

As in the words of the chairman of the Rural Private Hospitals Association of Kenya (RUPHA) Brian Lishenga, health facilities in the country are on their deathbeds.

Whereas the situation in health facilities is dire and calls for urgent remedial measures, the government seems to have decided to turn a blind eye while pretending to be busy implementing the so-called health reforms.

This is as the National Treasury and NHIF engage in a blame game. The national health insurer blames the Treasury for delaying the release of funds, as the latter claims to have disbursed all the funds.

We ask authorities to protect hospitals from closing down due to failure by NHIF to pay them.

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