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General News of Monday, 25 June 2018

Source: citinewsroom.com

NHIS could collapse without new investment – Health Minister

Indications from the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman Manu, are that the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) is still cash-strapped.

He has said the scheme might collapse if investors are not brought on board to rescue it.

According to him, the Health and Finance Ministries are making frantic efforts to get new sources of investment. Speaking on Accra-based Joy Fm, sector minister said: “we need some new some source of investment and that is what we are engaging in.”

“I’m working. Not only me but in collaboration with the Finance Ministry, to look at how we can get some new investments to put into health insurance.”

Other than that, Mr Agyemang Manu said the “sustainability of it [NHIS] and what we can do to make it very efficient would become a challenge.”

In the short term, even if there is some improvement, he said such progress would be still below the Akufo-Addo administrations expectations.

The challenges we have in health insurance might improve gradually but not in the big bang situation I would want to see, or the president would want to see so we are engaging.

In April, the government said it had paid up GH¢1 billion of the GH¢1.2 billion debt it inherited.

President Akufo-Addo, speaking at the London School of Economics’ Africa Summit, said: “the scheme is regaining its effectiveness.”

He had, prior to this, said the debt would be cleared by 2019.

Meanwhile, there are concerns about the government’s decision to cap statutory funds at 25 percent of all government revenue will hurt the NHIS.

The opposition National Democratic Congress’s (NDC) has urged the government to rethink this policy.

For the National Health Insurance, instead of having GHc 2.2 billion from the NHIS levy that we paid, the National Health Insurance ends up with GHc 1.3 billion. Almost GHc 900 million is gone. For some sensitive funds like NHIS, when you are having problems with the sustainability of the scheme, you don’t take money out of a fund like that. And then you come back and tell us that the fund is unsustainable so you won’t impose new taxes. – Former President Mahama

When the Earmarked Funds Capping and Realignment Act was passed in March 2017, it was also met with some criticism from the Minority in Parliament.

The Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, maintained that the decision was necessary to ensure the government had more fiscal space to undertake other key economic policies outlined in the budget.