NHIS crisis: Why HMOs should be scrapped – Protesting workers

Staff of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), on Monday called for a legislation that will phase out Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs) from the activities of the scheme.

They made the call in Abuja during the continuation of their protest for the Executive Secretary, Prof. Usman Yusuf, to respect the suspension order given to him by the Governing Council.

The Vice Chairman, Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), NHIS chapter, Mr. Theophilus Egwadah, stated that HMOs were among the major problems hindering the progress of the NHIS.

He insisted that the Scheme can operate without the intervention of the HMOs as it is being practiced in some African countries.

Dismissing reports that the union has been bought over by external influence, Egwadah explained that: “HMOs are the intermediary between the regulator (NHIS) and the enrollees (the public). There is no personal relationship between the workers and the HMOs.

“In all the fora that we have attended, we have been telling them that HMOs are part of the problem we are having in NHIS. There are some African countries that are practicing their health insurance without HMOs.

“The HMOs are stakeholders and have been participating in the scheme even before I was employed. We have told Prof. Yusuf that this (crisis) has to do with legislation. However, until a relevant legislation takes care of these HMOs, we cannot quit them.

“Prof Yusuf has not proposed a legislation to delist any HMO, rather he is busy making noise in the media and revealing to them some of the strategies we wanted to use against them. He is fighting everybody, fighting the staff, the HMOs, fighting hospitals and everybody,” he said.

Responding to a question on the best way to resolve the crisis rocking the NHIS, he said: “The best option is for him to step aside. His appointment has not been terminated, the Council only said, go on suspension and let the committee carry out the investigation on these infractions.

“The EFCC and ICPC have been investigating this man since 2016, up till now they have not concluded the investigation.”

On his part, the Chairman, Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN) and NHIS joint union, Comrade Olawuyi Kayode, called on Federal Government to mount pressure on Prof. Yusuf respects the order give to him as 2019 elections are at the corner.

“We need to help our president because election is around the corner and we don’t want the opposition party to use this as an advantage campaigning against our president.

“That is why we are shouting and clamouring that the appointing power lies with the president, which is not in doubt, but we want Professor Yusuf to step aside to answer to all these allegations and infractions that has been leveled against him,” he said.

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