NHIA broke: Terkper, Sylvester Mensah contradict each other over arrears

The Finance Ministry and the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) are providing contradictory information on arrears owed service providers.

Hospitals across the country are said to be in a state of bankruptcy as a result of debts owed them by the Authority.

The Ghana Medical Association (GMA) only yesterday hinted the dreaded cash-and-carry policy was back and patients holding NHIS cards are being turned away.

On the contrary, the Finance Minister Seth Tekper has rejected accusations that his outfit is to blame for the indebtedness to hospitals and other service providers.

He told Parliament those statutory payments including arrears due the National Health Insurance Authority have been paid up to January 2015.

According to him, a little of over 1 billion cedis which includes arrears of 2013 and 2014 has been released to the National Health Insurance Authority.

This will come as a surprise to service providers who have persistently complained about nonpayment of claims submitted to the authority since May last year.

Shortly after the Finance Minister’s revelation, the Chief Executive of the NHIA Sylvester Mensah said arrears information provided by the Minister was “inaccurate.”

“Nobody can provide a more accurate figure about arrears than the NHIA,” he said forcefully.

He said it cannot be the case that arrears have been paid to January 2015 as the Minister indicated.

While confirming the amount of money announced by the Finance Minister on the floor of Parliament, Sylvester Mensah said the amount was used to offset arrears of 2013 and part of 2014. There still remains some arrears of 2014 to clear, he indicated.

He explained the NHIA had been running a policy of deficit financing in the last four years, adding arrears for 2014 will have to be cleared with funds released for 2015.

He admitted the arrears were only for five to six months, even though there are isolated cases of delays of up to eight months due to technical challenges, not financial.

At the moment though, he said the NHIA is broke with no money in its coffers.

“We don’t have money. The budgetary allocation is inadequate to meet maturing obligation and we are working on additional funding sources to complement what we have,” he pointed out.

He said his outfit has been invited to Parliament to explain the details of the challenges they are facing.

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