General News of Thursday, 14 March 2013
The Communications Consultant for the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA)is incensed over assertions that the NHIS is near collapse.
Ametor Quarmyne admits the scheme may be going through crisis but stated emphatically the scheme is nowhere near a state of collapse.
His comments are in reaction to a statement put out by a network of international health NGOs who expressed fear that the NHIS is likely to collapse if the necessary measures were not taken.
The Universal Access to Healthcare Campaign who are part of the NGOs are alleging the authority is unable to honour its financial obligation because policy makers are divided over the management of their finances.
The NGOs are concerned lives of pregnant women and children, especially in remote areas could be lost as a result.
Their concerns come at a time when patients bearing NHIS cards are being turned away by Mission hospitals because of arrears owed them by the NHIA.
The National Coordinator of the Universal Healthcare Campaign, Sidua Hor, told Joy News the NHIS was destined to face some of these challenges because there were inherent flaws from the inception.
He likened the scheme to a tricycle running on two wheels, saying the major sources of funding for scheme are not enough to ensure efficient management.
Hor said the Authority must begin to explore other areas of funding, including possible taxes on mining, the timber industry and other informal sectors of the economy.
He was unequivocal that the NHIS under its current state was surely going to collapse if adequate steps were not taken.
But his description of a collapsing NHIS was considered pejorative by Ametor Quarmyne.
“There is nothing collapsing about the NHIS,” he stated, adding, people must not abuse words.
Quarmyne said the Authority is clear in its mind its source of funding, saying if the NHIA is to get its statutory funds every month the situation will not be the way it is.
He said the NHIA gets its funding from SSNIT, insurance levy through VAT and the premiums.
Whilst the premiums come directly to the NHIA, Quarmyne said the two other sources of funding which go into the consolidated fund are delayed which makes it impossible for the NHIS to run efficiently.
He said if there is “month-by-month” payment of the revenues accrued from SSNIT and VAT into the accounts of the NHIA the scheme can be run efficiently.
He stated that the three sources of revenue if paid on time will be enough to run the scheme.
But Sidua Hor said the Communications Consultant is not being completely honest with Ghanaians.
Quoting portions of a 2011 report released by the NHIA, Hor said the Authority stated it will be “insolvent” if additional sources of revenue were not found.
According to the report, the NHIA was proposing an increase in the VAT levy, taxes on petrochemicals and alcohol in order to raise additional source of funding to run the scheme efficiently.
He wondered why Ametor Quarmyne will now be telling the public that the scheme will be efficient, if it receives regularly its traditional source of funding.
Ametor Quarmyne however said the 2011 report was only a projection into the future.