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Reps may absolve Yusuf of wrongdoing in NHIS

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NHIS building

There are indications that the embattled executive secretary of the Nigeria Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof. Usman Yusuf, still enjoys the backing of the House of Representatives.

Chairman of the House Committee on Health Services, Chike Okafor, told The Guardian in a chat that Yusuf was being witch-hunted by the Dr. Enyantu Ifene-led governing board of NHIS for trying to clear the agency’s Augean stable.

Okafor, whose committee had early last year given Yusuf a clean bill of health over allegations of misappropriation, claimed that a few privileged Nigerians behind the Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs), who had been feeding fat on monies set aside to ensure universal health coverage for Nigerians, were behind the attempt by the governing board to ease Yusuf out of the system.

He described the ongoing crisis in the NHIS as unfortunate and the suspension order by the governing board an illegal act, since the power to suspend Yusuf could only be exercised by the president.

Said he: “The crux of the matter has to do with the accreditation of the HMOs. The man’s suspension was on the eve of the release of the list of accredited HMOs. In this whole saga, where and who is the HMOs siding? Are the HMOs on the side of the board or on the side of Yusuf? Whoever the HMOs are siding is the culprit.

“I dare say that the board is compromised. Everybody knows the stand of Yusuf in this matter. Yusuf insists that the HMOs have not delivered. That was why part of the conditions for their accreditation is that the HMOs should go and get a letter of quittance from the hospitals. HMOs, according to the Act that set up the NHIS scheme, are supposed to be the go-between for the scheme and hospitals who are the service providers to the enrollees. So it means that the NHIS cannot pay directly to the hospitals for facilities; it pays through the HMOs.

“But we have it on good authority that the HMOs collect this monies and then do not fund the hospitals. That is why enrollees go to hospitals and don’t get treatment. This is what Yusuf is keen on tackling.

“Yusuf is waging anti-graft war. He told us during the public hearing that the activities of the HMOs were worse than oil subsidy scam; that he found out that he paid the scheme between N3.5 billion and N5 billion every month to HMOs and how come 12 years after the NHIS came into being, we still have less than three million of 180 million Nigerians covered. Are we going forward or backward?”


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