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Economy

Queries as senior citizens miss free NHIF treatment

Citizens above the age of 70 are entitled to a
Citizens above the age of 70 are entitled to a Sh2,000 monthly allowance. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Senior citizens have not enjoyed the free medical cover from the State, putting the Treasury on the spot over delayed remittances.

The Ministry of Health told Parliament it received Sh636.26 million against the Sh2.2 billion requested in the year to June to cater for free National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) cover for the elderly.

The 523,000 beneficiaries, have complained of frustrations in their effort to access the free medical services since the launch of the ‘Inua Jamii’ cash transfer programme last year for the elderly.

“The ministry did not receive all the money it had budgeted for the financial year ending June 2019,” Ministry of Health chief administrative secretary Rashid Amana said.

The government promised the senior citizens free medical insurance alongside a monthly stipend starting January 2018.

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Citizens above the age of 70 are entitled to a Sh2,000 monthly allowance, which is paid every two months in a Sh4,000 lumpsum under a cash transfer scheme.

As part of the package, the senior citizens were also promised free NHIF outpatient cover. Some have, however, been turned away from accredited medical facilities despite their names being in the beneficiaries list.

MPs are now questioning the rationale of the scheme and who the beneficiaries of the Sh636.26 million released for free NHIF cover were.

“The elderly have NHIF cards but they are not functional because they were not paid for. If this is a fraud, who committed it,” posed Eseli Simiyu, the Tongaren MP.

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