MPs want NHIF audit before new health plan takes effect

Junet Mohamed

Minority Whip Junet Mohamed addresses journalists during a past function. 

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

Members of Parliament have expressed concern over the planned 2.75 percent contribution to the new Social Health Insurance Fund (SHIF), saying an audit of the previous scheme should be done to seal corruption loopholes.

A section of MPs who spoke to Sunday Nation said the government should do a comprehensive audit of the billions of shillings deducted from Kenyans pay to fund the current National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) before moving to the new SHIF.

Lawmakers said the probe will help seal the loopholes that cartels use at NHIF to siphon billions of shillings of taxpayers’ money through dubious hospital claims.

Minority Whip Junet Mohamed said opposition MPs will wait for the regulations on the deductions to be taken to Parliament before taking a common stand as a coalition.

Mr Mohamed said the increased contribution to the fund is unnecessary and a burden to the already overtaxed Kenyans.

“People are feeling overtaxed, those in formal employment have had their payslips significantly thinned. They need to think outside the box. It cannot be that taxation is the only solution to every problem. We will look at the regulations and take a common position as the opposition,” Mr Mohamed said.

Marakwet West MP Timothy Kipchumba that a comprehensive audit should be done to establish whether Kenyans got value for their money while making contributions to the NHIF.

Mr Kipchumba said a legal framework needs to be in place to guide the expenditure of the money to be deducted from Kenyans before the SHIF comes into force.

“Just like the case of the housing levy, we don’t have a legal framework to guide how money collected from Kenyans is spent. Kenyans are being taxed left, right and centre and it’s making the government unpopular. We need to pass a national tax policy in the House,” he said.

Pokot South MP David Pkosing also called on the government to audit the NHIF before transiting to the new body to prevent Kenyans losing money to cartels.

“Kenyans are skeptical that we are moving to a new body without being told what is wrong with the current NHIF,” Mr Pkosing said.

He said the planned 2.75 percent deduction is too high for Kenyans who are dealing with the high cost of living.

“This 2.75 percent is too high, and it’s actually not going to help us. Are we running away from problems at NHIF or transiting with them to the new body? Mr Pkosing aksed.

But National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah defended the new levies.

“The changes that come with the new SHIF have benefits that save Kenyans much more in their healthcare bills/costs. The new health scheme will cover all ailments; chronic and critical illnesses as well as emergencies. A big number of Kenyans are also being taken care of with lower tariffs of Sh300, down from Sh500,” he said.

Kipkelion West MP Hilary Kosgei said the health cover will help them in the long run.

Nyaribari Chache Zaheer Jhanda warned that anyone who will misuse the funds in the new outfit will be dealt with accordingly.

On Wednesday last week, Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha gazetted the Social Health Insurance Act.