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KMPDU pokes holes in Ruto’s Social Health Insurance Bill 

The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists, and Dentists Union (KMPDU) Secretary General, Davji Atellah, has voiced concerns about the implications of the recently enacted Social Health Insurance Bill 2023.

In a statement to media houses on October 9, 2023, Atellah highlighted the Union’s disappointment in the Parliamentary Health Committee’s disregard of their proposals.

In his statement, Atellah foresaw the possibility of the immediate cessation of comprehensive medical cover for over 3 million Kenyans, including civil servants and their dependents.

Atellah said that the comprehensive medical cover was not a government favor but a collective decision by civil servants in December 2011.

They had agreed to relinquish their monthly Medical Allowance of Ksh.3,500 in exchange for a comprehensive medical scheme administered by the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF).

“This comprehensive medical cover must be remembered that it is not a favor from the Government but rather something that all civil servants collectively decided in December 2011 to relinquish their monthly Medical Allowance of Ksh.3, 500 for a Comprehensive medical scheme to be administered by the NHIF,” Atellah said.

The Secretary-General raised concerns about the new law potentially tripling mandatory statutory deductions from Ksh.1,700 to Ksh.5,000, resulting in each member contributing Ksh.8,500 per month or Ksh.102,000 annually without assured access to care.

In addition to the impact on formal sector employees, the union expressed worry about the bill’s effects on the informal sector, where 80% of Kenyans work.

They emphasized the potential hardships caused by upfront annual contributions compared to monthly contributions for formally employed individuals.

Addressing concerns about joblessness, Atellah questioned the fairness of penalizing the unemployed and raised skepticism about the promised ‘premium financial products’ for the informal sector, questioning who would stand to benefit commercially from such arrangements.

Moreover, the KMPDU called for the disbursement of the Primary Health Care Fund to counties through the Commission of Revenue Allocation, aiming to safeguard devolution and prevent delays in service delivery.

They drew parallels with challenges observed in the education sector fund disbursement.

Expressing disappointment in the development of regulations for the Social Health Authority without the establishment of the board and input from key stakeholders, including the Council of Governors, the union raised questions about the inclusive and consultative nature of the decision-making process.

This development follows President William Ruto’s signing of four Universal Health Coverage bills into law in October, including the Primary Health Care Bill, Facility Improvement Financing Bill, Digital Health Bill, and the Social Health Insurance Bill.

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