NHIS controversy worsens as Reps reject agency’s budget

The House of Representative in Chamber ... members are notorious for budget mutilation
The House of Representative in Chamber ... members are notorious for budget mutilation

The House of Representatives has rejected the 2017 budget proposals of the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS.

The rejection may not be unconnected with the raging crisis over the suspension of the Executive Secretary of the agency, Usman Yusuf.

At its sitting on Wednesday, the Chairman of the committee, Chike Okafor, said the committee would not consider the budget of the NHIS until the minister had appeared to explain Mr. Usman’s suspension.

The House and the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, had been on the war path over the suspension of Mr. Usman while its committee was investigating alleged rot in the implementation of the scheme.

The House of Representatives had earlier asked the minister to reinstate Mr. Yusuf, a resolution the ministry ignored.

It also asked the minister to halt the re-accreditation of Health Maintenance Organisations, HMOs, pending the outcome of an ongoing investigation of the scheme by the House.

The health minister had suspended Mr. Yusuf over corruption allegations, one of which was the procurement of a N58 million SUV without due process.

PREMIUM TIMES broke the news of Mr. Yusuf’s suspension and his initial reaction to it.

The health minister later explained the reasons for the three months suspension, saying it was to allow unfettered investigations into the allegations.

Mr. Yusuf, 54, took over the state-run health insurance provider on July 29, 2016.

But his reign has been fraught with allegations of fraud. The suspension came weeks after the Senate launched investigations into his activities as the NHIS chief.

The lawmakers accused Mr. Yusuf of “corrupt expenditure of N292 million” which he allegedly spent on health care training “without recourse to any appropriate approving authority.”

The NHIS chief has denied any wrongdoing.

His suspension also comes in the middle of an investigation by the House Committee on Health Services on the implementation of the NHIS.

Mr. Yusuf had at the public hearing in the course of the investigation blamed the HMOs for the failure of the NHIS to deliver services.

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He attributed the alleged corruption by the HMOs to fraud in the fuel subsidy scheme, stressing that enrolee figures were being padded.

The scheme which has been regarded by many as a cesspool for corrupt acts was set up to ensure financing of health care costs and management for Nigerians through the pooling and judicious use of financial resources to ensure cost burden sharing for patients through pre-payment mechanisms.


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