NHIS Still In Troubled Waters
The Governing Council of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has expressed concern over the state of the scheme, adding that it may collapse within the next three years unless urgent measures are taken.
“This tipping point may occur sooner if remittances decline further, budget deficit trend persists and the management fiscal indiscipline continues,” it warned.
The council gave the warning in the concluding part of the nine ‘infractions‘ it listed against Usman Yusuf, Executive Secretary of the scheme, after it on October 18 suspended him over allegations of fraud and infractions.
Recall that activities were grounded at the scheme with workers and management pitched against each other, as Mr Yusuf ignored the suspension, saying the council had no power to suspend him.
With the help of armed police officers, he was able to get himself into office after the controversial suspension.
President Muhammadu Buhari however stepped in and ordered the controversial official to proceed on an ‘administrative leave’,
Mr Buhari approved the establishment of a seven-member panel to probe Mr Yusuf’s alleged infractions after he ‘dissolved’ the panel earlier set up by the governing board and annulled the board’s appointment of Sadiq Abubakar as acting executive secretary.
The president deployed Ben Omogo, a Director of Administration in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation to “oversee the affairs of the Scheme” for now.
Premium Times report that normalcy has not returned to the scheme as the media sighted a document where the governing council listed the “pervasive corruption and turmoil which is past, present and ongoing” will eventually lead to the end of the scheme soon if not checked.
The council said it had “unfortunately” been trapped in a vicious cycle of conflict and corruption swirling around the scheme since the council’s inauguration earlier in March.
“Our dreams to contribute the rich resources of members’ professional, corporate and administrative experiences to add value to FGN vision for the agency is constantly frustrated by non-collegial leadership approach of the Executive Secretary.
“We are pained that council meetings are reduced to acrimonious and confrontational platform for management staff and ES to air petitions and counter petitions of corruption and present frivolous housekeeping matters. In fact, council efforts to restore the agenda, refocus the agency and on a strategic path and change the narrative is resisted at every turn.”
The council expressed deep concern about the situation which it described as “incremental drift that may tip NHIS into financial, operational and organisational collapse.
“In fact, we must reiterate that with current deficit budget trends and dwindling net reserve funds, the probability of the scheme collapsing withing three years is high.
“This tipping point may occur sooner if remittances decline further, budget deficit trend persists and the management fiscal indiscipline continues.”
Since Mr Yusuf’s reinstatement after a previous suspension by the health minister, the agency has been engulfed in infighting as the executive secretary and some senior officials traded accusations of fraud.
Apart from several allegations that affected operations of the scheme, for which Mr Yusuf was suspended last year, more recent allegations have been levelled against him by the governing council of the agency.
The council repeatedly rejected the 2018 budget of the scheme over alleged ‘padding’ by Mr Yusuf.
Sources at the NHIS further explained the fears of the council.
“What the governing council is saying about the imminent collapse being worrisome is that remittances to the scheme even from the federal government has declined in recent years. So in other words, less and less money has been coming to the scheme from the government” a senior official who would not be named for fear of being victimised explained.
“While the scheme is receiving and holding less funds progressively, we are having leakages and abuse of funds here and there. If funds continue to be lost through these leakages and remittances to the scheme are dropping progressively then the pool of funds for the scheme will shrink drastically. This is why the council projects that in three years if it continues like this, we will be in trouble.”