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Review NHIS Act for improved coverage, HCPAN tells NASS

By Chioma Obinna

THE Healthcare Providers Association of Nigeria, HCPAN, has appealed to the 8th National Assembly to review the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS, Act with a view to making the Scheme more accessible to Nigerians.

*Dr Umar Sanda, President, HCPAN

The Association, however, decried what it described as ‘static nature’ of the Scheme, regretting that  it had been relegated.

The National President, HCPAN, Dr. Umar Sanda who spoke during the Extraordinary General Meeting in Lagos, said the current situation of the Scheme has affected most states that initially intended to key into the project to relax about it.

Sanda said: “We have not seen enrollees added to the list and providers are feeling the pinch.”

Stating that Universal Health Coverage can only be achieved when the NHIS is made compulsory, he noted: “The law setting up the act is a problem. As long as this 8th Assembly does not pass the new law on health insurance, we will not move any step further.  It is the only way of financing health.

“The law has passed the second reading. It is more than eight months now, we have not heard anything about it.  We believe that the only way of financing health is by health insurance, the government cannot do it alone, “he noted.

Sanda alleged that some aspects of the law erode both providers and enrollees’ rights as well as give more powers to the regulators and not the providers.  “There are so many things wrong about the law.

“How can regulators keep the premium and then disburse the money? That is why you have friction between the health managers and the regulators and that is why you have providers not being paid as at when due.  The prepaid programme is now totally a post-prepaid programme.”

On his part, National President of the  Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, PSN, Pharm. Ahmed Yakasai noted that NHIS remains the gateway to achieve universal healthcare coverage.

“There is the need for government to review the NHIS Act as this would allow all Nigerians to enroll in NHIS. Now, for instance, many of the enrollees go to private hospitals because the Act has not been reviewed.

“I can assure you by the time the Act would be reviewed, every Nigerian would be going to general hospitals without paying. We are saying let us have a fee for service in NHIS,” he stated.

Also speaking, President, Association of General Medical Private Practitioners of Nigeria, AGPMPN, Dr Iyke Odo, said a universal health coverage was a system that makes it possible for everybody to be registered and covered by health insurance and if it is made compulsory through rule of law, it will bring back honesty, disciplined leadership.

He said the law establishing the Scheme has clearly defined the role of all stakeholders.

“We need Universal Coverage where every provider will be guaranteed of critical mass, and adequate number of enrollees.”

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