•The Senate Health Committee is mulling amending the NHIF Act to deter the institution from denying its members medical cover because of the conduct of their employers.
•According to figures presented to the committee, 30 counties are yet to remit Sh143.27 million to NHIF despite deducting the cash from their salaries.
Salaried holders of the National Hospital Insurance Fund cards will no longer be denied services based on their employers delaying to remit statutory deductions.
Instead, defaulting employers will face heavy punishment including penalties imposed by the national health insurer, if a proposal by a senate committee to amend the law is passed.
The Senate Health Committee is mulling amending the NHIF Act to deter the insurer from denying its members medical cover because of the conduct of their employers.
“How is it my mistake if I am an employee and every month the money is deducted from my salary?” vice-chairperson Mary Seneta said.
She said there was a need for a legal instrument to penalise public agencies and other employers instead of meting out the punishment on innocent clients.
Seneta spoke during the committee’s meeting with NHIF chief executive Peter Kimunyo to discuss the non-remittances of the statutory deductions by the counties.
According to figures presented to the committee by Kimunyo, 30 counties are yet to remit Sh143.27 million to NHIF despite deducting the cash from their salaries.
“As of October 6, 16 out of 47 county governments had remitted the employees monthly contributions up to September while 31 counties had remitted employees monthly deductions up to August,” Kamunyo said in the documents.
“It is only Tana River that has contribution arrears beyond one month since the county last remitted contributions for June.”
The report shows that Nairobi is yet to remit Sh17.88 million for September while Kakamega is yet to remit Sh7.24 million.
Other counties with big balances are Kisii (Sh7.02 million), Kiambu (Sh8.78 million), Machakos (Sh7.50 million) and Mombasa (Sh6.49 million.).
“Counties say the late remittance of employee’s contributions have been attributed to delayed disbursements of funds from the Treasury forcing them to pay staff net salaries as they await disbursements to honour the statutory obligations and other employees’ financial commitments,” the CEO said.
He disclosed that as a result of the erratic payments, NHIF has been forced to deny services to members whose employers have defaulted in remitting the funds.
He says the NHIF Act, allows the institution to halt coverage to the lot until their employers make remittances.
“If their employers do not remit, they become inactive members,” Kamunyo said.
Section 16 (1) of the NHIF Act states that a person liable to pay a standard contribution shall pay such contribution through monthly deductions from his salary or other remuneration and the employer of such person shall be liable to deduct and to pay the contribution to the board on behalf of and to the exclusion of that person.
Seneta and other committee members Abdullahi Ali (Wajir), Millicent Omanga (nominated) and Samson Cherargei (Nandi) pushed to know why the agency was punishing innocent clients.
They said the current legal framework should be changed to turn the heat on defiant employers.
Senata said her committee will engage its Labour and Social Welfare counterpart to tweak KRA and NSSF Acts to save innocent Kenyans who are being punished because of the conduct of their employers.
Edited by Kiilu Damaris