Written by Carolyn Wamalwa
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NHIF board chairman Richard Muga and his vice chair Willy Sossion Thursday at a press conference where the board suspended its CEO and four other officials before the same being reversed by the Medical Services minister Prof. Anyang Nyong'o who suspended the chair for having no authority. Photo/ Carolyne Akirapa.
The Medical Services minister Prof Anyang Nyong’o has suspended the National hospital Insurance Fund -NHIF board chairman Richard Muga after he had ordered the Chief Executive Officer Richard Kerich together with four other officials to step aside as probe is launched on the civil servants scheme.
Nyong’o had argued that, he was the only one authorized to do so and not the board chair.
“I am the only authorized office to make any staff changes in institutions falling under my Ministry,” adding that, the chairman had “unilaterally and without any Board concurrence or resolution” sacked the Kerich.
Nyong’o had thus said that his ministry was the only one authorized to make changes: “I am the only authorized office to make any staff changes in institutions falling under my Ministry,” he argued.
The NHIF board chairman Richard Muga had earlier issued a statement directing that the Chief Executive Officer Richard Kerich steps aside to allow for investigations into the controversial scheme, which has drawn mixed reactions from union official as well as its contributors.
Muga said that though the CEO had not been accused of any wrongdoing, the stepping aside was meant to probe the allegations over questionable payments made to certain clinics without thorough investigations to ascertain whether they met the outlined specifications.
Dr. George Midiwo was appointed to take over from Kerich as CEO with immediate effect, before investigations into the saga are complete.
Others appointed to fill the positions of the suspended officers include: George Mwangi, Ruth Gichoi, and Ruth Makala.
Subsequently, an internal board committee chaired by Abdul has been tasked to probe the saga and give a comprehensive report in a week’s time.
Muga further said that his board will seek audience with COTU over the impasse and work on an amicable solution to prevent the impending strike scheduled for May 14.
He also explained that the board was acting according to law by sending the officers on leave, citing that the decision was a normal intervention in their operations.
The chairman distanced the board from the emerging allegations over misappropriation and unfair allocations, saying that the board is only mandated to supervise implementation and was not in any way involved in selecting and awarding contracts to the clinics.
He warned that the clinics which will be found to have cheated during inspection will not receive the second payment as it had been earlier agreed.
On a contrary opinion, the NHIF board vice chair Willy Sossion said the chairman was exercising high handedness in declaring the suspension, since he had not consulted with other board members and that the suspension of the CEO and his officials received a dissenting vote from all the nine board members.
Sossion insists that the decision to suspend Kerich and his officers does not reflect the position of the board, hence inconsistent with the law.
The vice chair said that the move was illogical since the beneficiaries of the scheme were not complaining and that they were allocated to facilities of their choice, adding that the allegations that NHIF forcefully imposed clinics on them was a fallacy.
Sossion revealed that the issue was being handled with personal interest and that the new entrants were unilaterally appointed based on ethnic inclinations.
However, Muga upon learning that his decision had been revoked by Medical Services PS Mary Ngare said that his pronouncement as chairman was final, explaining that he was not scared to lose his position and that it was only president Mwai Kibaki who could end his term at the board.
Muga further revealed that the CEO Richard Kerich was adamant to taking instructions from other authorities apart from the medical services PS, something he believes could have greatly contributed to the current mishap.
During the Labor Day celebrations held on Tuesday, COTU Secretary General had dared to reveal forces behind the controversial scheme, which he said were pushing for the new rates, so that they could make a lot to benefit their political and personal ambitions.
COTU has rejected the new rates saying they are out to exploit the poor and had initially filed a court case challenging the implementation.
Atwoli cautioned that if not reviewed, he would mobilize workers to engage in a countrywide strike starting May 14.
NHIF prides itself in 45 years of providing affordable health insurance service covering inpatient and outpatient services to its registered members.
The controversial scheme was signed into existence by the ministry of state for public health in December 2011 and is meant to cater for medical needs of civil servants, members of the armed forces and their dependants in public, private and mission hospitals countrywide
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