Atwoli quits NHIF as fund prepares new monthly fees

Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) Secretary General Francis Atwoli at a past function. Photo/File
Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) Secretary General Francis Atwoli at a past function. Photo/File 

Cotu secretary-general Francis Atwoli has quit the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) board. His exit comes weeks after a court dismissed the Central Organisation of Trade Unions’ suit opposing a move by the fund to increase monthly premiums, paving way for formal sector workers to start paying higher fees from April.

Mr Atwoli has been replaced by Mr Akelo Misori, the secretary of the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet), according to a notice in the Kenya Gazette signed by Health minister Anyang’ Nyong’o.

“The Minister for Medical Services appoints Akelo Misori to be a member of the National Hospital Insurance Fund for a period of three years, with effect from February 14, 2013. The appointment of Francis Atwoli is revoked,” said Prof Nyong’o.

Mr Atwoli and Prof Nyong’o have been at loggerheads over the implementation of the new rates, which the minister believed would broaden of NHIF’s services and take comprehensive health insurance to the poor.

Opponents of the new fees, led by Cotu, have argued that NHIF lacks capacity to manage such an amount of money and demanded far-reaching reforms before the new fees are introduced.

Under the new regime, formal sector workers earning a gross salary of Sh100,000 and above will make a monthly contribution of Sh2,000 up from the current Sh320.

Those earning between Sh50,000 and Sh100,000 will contribute Sh1,500 per month, while those on a salary of less than Sh5,999 will contribute Sh150.

The new fees will put more than Sh20 billion in the hands of NHIF’s management even as the agency’s latest financial statement shows that it spent a third of last year’s pool of funds on salaries and administrative costs.

Mr Atwoli told the Business Daily on Friday that the revocation of his name was on the request of Cotu.

“It was done in our own interest. It is Cotu which requested the minister to make the changes because I am a very busy man,” said Mr Atwoli in a telephone interview.

“It has nothing do with the new NHIF rates. That is a Cotu position, which nobody can just revoke or get there and take over our position,” he said.