The government is set to oust Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu), teachers unions and Federation of Kenya Employees (FKE) from the board of the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF), opening a fresh battle front with the workers and employers.
The ouster will be prompted by the review of the NHIF Act, which will see the removal of five directors that represent FKE, teachers union, Cotu, Kenya Medical Association and faith-based organisations.
The five will be replaced by nominees by the Health Cabinet Secretary, giving the government a firm grip of the cash-rich fund that collects more than Sh30 billion from workers annually.
Cotu and the unions reckon that NHIF belongs to workers who fully fund its operations and not government, arguing the position gives them right to influence the strategic direction of the fund through board seats.
“Delete and substitute therefore the following new paragraph… five persons appointed by the cabinet secretary based on relevant knowledge and experience in the subject matter,” reads the amendments to the NHIF Act.
The proposal is contained in the Statute Law (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2018 sponsored by National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale. It was tabled Thursday evening in Parliament.
Council of Governors
It also gives the Council of Governors a seat in the NHIF board in the recognition that health is a devolved function.
This will increase the NHIF board to 11 seats including the chair appointed by the President and three Principal Secretaries from Treasury, Health and Labour.
Others are six persons appointed by the Cabinet Secretary of Health including one from the public sector.
The proposal will lead to the ouster of Gilda Odera (FKE), Elly Opot (KMA), Latiff Shaban (faith-based representative), Mudzo Nzili (Knut) and Akelo Misori (Cotu).
Voting power in the NHIF board is shared equally between the government and the private sector, but this will shift to the State if Parliament approves the amendments.
The NHIF in 2015 introduced outpatient cover and enhanced benefits for ailments such as cancer and kidney dialysis after raising the amount that workers contribute from Sh320 to a graduated scale of between Sh500 and Sh1,700 per month.
In the six months to December, it collected Sh23.6 billion from its seven million members and paid Sh17.3 billion to hospitals as claims.
It used Sh3.2 billion for its expenses. The fund therefore closed the half-year with a Sh3.1 billion surplus.
Cotu and FKE also face ouster from the board of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) following separate amendments to the law, drawing protests from the workers and employers representatives.