Home Business & Economy N351 billion trapped in HMOs – Minister

N351 billion trapped in HMOs – Minister

JONAS EZIEKE and EUCLID MYKE, Abuja

The Minister of Health, Professor, Isaac Adewole has called for the scrapping of Health Management Organizations (HMOs) due to inefficiency, saying that over N351 billion credited to HMOs has remained inaccessible by National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) retainership hospitals.

Prof. Isaac Adewole, through his  Director, Hospital Services, Federal Ministry of Health, Wapanda Balami, stated this during a public hearing on the compliance rate of Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs) to the NHIS contributions and utilisation of funds by the health care providers and inhumane treatment of enrollees organised on Wednesday by the House committee on Healthcare services.

The Minister disclosed the inefficiency of the HMOs saying that they received N351 billion which ought to be for the expansion of the scheme but the reverse seemed to be the case and clients are yet to get value for the scheme.

He charged the House committee on health to sanction the erring HMOs.

Addressing the committee, the Executive Secretary of National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof. Usman Yusuf, emphasised the need to strengthen the NHIS Act, saying that most of them operate with expired licenses.

He decried the activities of Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs) and liken it to the fraud experienced in the fuel subsidy scheme in the past, stressing that other countries are succeeding with HMOs while it is otherwise in Nigeria.

He was unequivocal that HMOs are paid three months in advance,  maintaining that they have no reasons to withhold funds from the outlet hospitals which has frustrated enrollees from seamless access to healthcare services under the scheme.

“There is no HMOs in this country. Most of them their accreditation has expired. If by July they don’t renew their accreditation, they will be delisted.

“Biometric will be introduced in the NHIS register in order to reduce fraud in the healthcare sector.

“NHIS will fight for the enrollees and recoup the N351 billion debt. When HMO is blocked more money will come.”

While assuring accountability and transparency, Prof. Yusuf disclosed that NHIS enrollees will soon be deployed to HMO offices.

The  Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara while declaring the public hearing open assured that the National Assembly will partner with all stakeholders within  to ensure better healthcare delivery in the country.

Dogara, who was represented by Deputy Minority Leader, Hon. Chukwuka Onyema, said the scheme has witnessed various criticisms and so there is a compelling need to expand it.

He stated that the hearing has given opportunities for the ministry and other stakeholders invited to express their views and proffer solutions.

The chairman of the House Committee on Healthcare services, Hon. Chike Okafor, said the scheme was on the threshold of failure as it only services less that 5 percent of the population.

Hon. Okafor hinted that over 450 petitions have been received by the committee on the failure of the HMOs to discharge their statutory responsibilities.

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