KNH wants extra funds as medical debt burden rises to Sh7bn

Kenyatta National Hospital acting chief executive officer Evanson Kamuri (centre) informs the Public Investments Committee about the institution's financial well-being, at Parliament on May 2, 2019. The hospital is owed billions by patients. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • Dr Kamuri urged the Treasury to set up a kitty specifically meant to cushion the hospital against poor patients who get services of the hospital but cannot pay.
  • PIC chairman Abdulswamad Nassir urged KNH management to consider surcharging institutions that delay payments.

Patients owe Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) Sh7 billion.

Appearing before the National Assembly’s Public Investment Committee on Thursday, acting CEO Evanson Kamuri urged the government to help the hospital recover the debt.

Dr Kamuri urged the Treasury to set up a kitty specifically meant to cushion the hospital against poor patients who get services of the hospital but cannot pay.

“The figure has been increasing every year. We urge this committee to implore the Treasury to create a fund so that we can be reimbursed to recover the debts,” he said.

NHIF

Dr Kamuri told the committee that lower ranked hospitals such as those in level three, four and five have been receiving money from the government to settle debts owed to them by patients.

On top of the Sh7 billion debt, Dr Kamuri also told the committee that the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) also owes the facility Sh1.3 billion in unpaid claims.

Dr Kamuri complained that the NHIF is slow in processing their claims. “These bills negatively affect the services we offer, but again we are in dilemma because these are still Kenyans and we have to offer them services,” Dr Kamuri said.

Committee chairman Abdulswamad Nassir urged KNH management to consider surcharging institutions that delay payments.

“Every time the payment is delayed it affects services offered by hospitals. The NSSF and NHIF are discharging other Kenyans who delay in payment and they should also be surcharged,” Mr Nassir said.

DETAINMENT

Mr Nassir advised the hospital's board to find ways to recover the debt.

A report by Auditor General Edward Ouko for 2016/2017 financial year indicated that the hospital is owed Sh662 million by patients. The hospital had stated in its financial statements a debt of Sh56.7 million due from the insurer.

This comes even as the National Assembly considers an amendment by Nyando MP Jared Okelo on the Health Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018 to stop all hospitals from detaining anyone with unpaid bills.

Alternatively, Mr Okelo wants public and private hospitals to reach a mutual agreement with parties involved on how to settle bills.

The lawmaker wants the Medical Practitioners and Dentists Act 253 amended to compel any health personnel or facility to pay up to Sh5 million fine or serve a jail term of up to five years for detaining patients or bodies of those deceased.

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