By Ikenna Uwadileke
The House of Representatives on Thursday,called on the National Health Insurance (NHIS) to put on hold further quarterly release of funds to the Health Maintenance organizations (HMOs) pending the outcome of investigation.
The House also mandated its Committee on Health Care Services to commence investigation into the activities of the HMOs and healthcare providers for the past eight years.
This is with a view to identifying their level of compliance with the relevant provisions of the Act and determine the reasons for the poor state of services to the enrolees.
The resolutions of the House followed the adoption of a motion on the urgent need to investigate the compliance rate of funds by the healthcare providers and inhuman treatment of enrollees, moved by Rep. Chike Okafor (APC-Imo).
Leading the debate, Okafor noted that the NHIS was set up to provide health care for Nigerians at affordable cost through various pre-payment systems.
The lawmaker also noted that one of the cardinal responsibilities of the scheme was to maintain high health care standard to beneficiaries.
He expressed dismay that enrollees were being short changed and used as conduit pipes to raise money for the HMO’s and healthcare providers.
The lawmaker He said, “Enrolees are treated like lepers while trying to access the services that many strategies have been adopted by healthcare providers and HMOs to deprive them their right to quality treatment and attention.”
Okafor claimed that the HMOs had received over N351 billion from the scheme since its inception in 2005.
“It is regrettable to realize that the service covers less than four per cent of Nigerians and there are reports of alleged diversion of contributions amounting to billions of naira.’’
He further revealed that the scheme paid HMOs three months upfront to enable them provide timely and qualitative health care services to enrollees.
The lawmaker, however, noted that ”the reverse is the case as enrolees are being short changed and the services remain poor.
The Committee on Health Care Services is expected to report its findings to the House with four weeks.