Senate passes bill to make health insurance mandatory for all Nigerians

The requests contained in three separate letters read at the start of Tuesday's plenary by Senate President Ahmad Lawan.  3

Senate Health Committee Chairman Dr. Ibrahim Oloriegbe says the Senate passed a bill that will make health insurance mandatory for all Nigerians.

Oloriegbe made this known at the launch of the Individual and Family Health Social Insurance Program (GIFSHIP) on Thursday in Abuja.

“We have approved it in the Senate. Two Health Committees from the Senate and House of Representatives worked on the bill, so the bill is in the House of Representatives only by agreement.

“In addition, the National Assembly approved the Law of the National Health Insurance Authority. It will no longer be the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), it will be the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA). A scheme in NHI (S) means only one scheme. That is what has been happening.

“The NHIA will be the authority that will cover all the schemes and everything will come together. The most important aspect is to make health insurance mandatory for all Nigerians, ” he said.

The president said that the e-NHIS framework had been approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and would be implemented soon.

He explained that the National Assembly had been supporting the NHIS by allocating the necessary funds for its implementation.

“Without funds for it, it cannot work, when we considered the NHIS 2020 budget, we made a full provision for the achievement of the e-NHIS; 1.5 billion naira was provided for that, ” he said.

Furthermore, Oloriegbe said that the Senate had been working with the Federal Ministry of Health to improve health coverage by granting effective implementation to the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF).

“We have revised the BHCPF manual in collaboration with stakeholders to make the fund more beneficial to Nigerians.

“Also, the inauguration of GIFSHIP is important to us. What we are doing today is very critical to achieving GIFSHIP’s goals because we represent people.

“What we will do as representatives of the health sector in the national assembly is to advocate and ensure that all of our colleagues register their electoral districts, support and pay for their electoral districts.

“We will start, all of us who lead five health committees in the national assembly will register our electoral districts,” he said.

In his remarks, Dr. Niyi Oginni, Chairman of the Forum of CEOs of State Health Insurance Agencies in Nigeria, said that states had been restructured to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

“For many years, Nigeria has struggled to achieve universal health coverage and this required the establishment of state health insurance agencies.

“The agencies have a comprehensive health insurance package that includes GIFSHIP,” he said.

Oginni said one of the challenges of the scheme was the electronic aspect of it, seeking collaboration with NHIS to update its operations electronically.

However, he expressed concern about the news of a state that had announced to cut the wages of its workers by 50 percent, saying it “will affect contributions to the health scheme.”

Also speaking, Dr. Adeyeye Arigbabuwo, President of the Health Service Providers Association of Nigeria (HCPAN) expressed his willingness to partner with NHIS to achieve the goals of GIFSHIP.

Arigbabuwo praised the NHIS for introducing flagship programs, especially health insurance under one roof.

“We will continue to do our best to provide services for Nigerians to access health facilities,” he said.

Similarly, Dr. Leke Osunniyi, President of the Healthcare and Managed Care Association of Nigeria (HMCAN) praised NHIS for the launch of GIFSHIP, saying: “We are happy that our suggestions have been captured on the show.

“We are optimistic that the program will contribute to the growth of health insurance in the country,” he said.

Journalists report that the highlight of the event was the formal inauguration of GIFSHIP and the symbolic registration by the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire.

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