The Senate yesterday commenced the process of making health insurance compulsory for all in the country.
The move came as the Senate held a public hearing on the repeal of the law establishing the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), to be replaced with the National Health Insurance Commission (NHIC).
Speaking during the public hearing yesterday, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Senator Olarenwanju Tejuosho said the current Act makes health insurance optional and that it must be made mandatory to strengthen the country’s health sector.
“All countries that have made substantial progress towards universal health coverage have done so because they have made it mandatory,” he said.
Tejuosho, however said making health insurance compulsory without sufficient arrangements for subsidization will not work.
“We must make all efforts to subsidize the payments for those who cannot afford premiums,” he said pointing out that the poverty rate in Nigeria was about 35 per cent of the population, which translates to over 60million Nigerians that are living below poverty line.
Declaring open the public hearing, Senate President Bukola Saraki, who was represented by the Deputy Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah said the repeal was to address gaps in the NHIS Act.
Spokesman of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) Odoh Onu quoting the Executive Secretary of the Scheme, Professor Usman Yusuf said there was nothing wrong with the present act and rather than repealing it , it should be strengthened to give NHIS more powers for its regulatory roles and to be able to address the issue of corrupt practices, saying the grey areas are those that gave powers to Health Management Organisations (HMOs).
The ES also called for the removal of HMOs from the board of the scheme saying the regulated wass not supposed to be on the board of the regulator.
By: Ismail Mudashir
Daily Trust News
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