Nyong’o action overturned in NHIF standoff
The Office of the President has overruled yet another attempt by the Medical Services minister to take charge of the National Hospital Insurance Fund.
A day after Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o tried to name a new chief executive, a decision was taken to extended Mr Adan A Adan’s term at the helm of the caretaker team named to hold fort at the scandal-hit parastatal. The decision came on the same day Adan was accused of approving the hiring of several of his relatives, including his wife, to work for the statutory body.
The extension to the caretaker team’s tenure followed a meeting chaired by Head of Public Service Francis Kimemia on Friday. Held at Harambee House, it involved top Government officials and the Fund’s caretaker board. Attendees were summoned through a letter to the PS Medical Services, Mary Ngare. It is not immediately clear whether Prof Nyong’o was aware of the impending meeting when he attempted to appoint Simeon Kirgotty as the new acting CEO of the multi-billion shilling fund a day earlier.
The caretaker team was appointed to take over from NHIF board after allegations of fraud were made in connection with the implementation of a Sh4.3 billion civil servants medical scheme. Police, anti-corruption officials and Parliament have all been investigating the allegations. Following Parliament’s rejection of a report on the scandal, Nyong’o tried and failed to secure clearance to reappoint suspended CEO Richard Kerich.
Yesterday, Adan disputed reports of his sacking, saying he was still in office working. He added he would remain until the caretaker team hands over their report to President Kibaki, and Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
“As I am talking to you, I am in my office working. Please do correct the impression that I had been sacked by the minister,” Adan told The Standard. Nyong’o named Mr Kirgotty as acting CEO of NHIF in a letter released on Thursday.
He had earlier indicated he would announce a new team to replace the caretaker team and the former board. “I have appointed you to hold brief at the NHIF while I make arrangements to appoint a new board with which you will work to superintend reform at the Fund,” Nyong’o wrote to Kirgotty. “Please ensure that the Fund runs effectively, efficiently, and productively.”
Wrote to DPP
Kirgotty is a former Commissioner of Motor Vehicles at the Kenya Revenue Authority. Last month, the minister wrote to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Keriako Tobiko seeking his green light to reappoint Kerich.
Nyong’o argued a report that had recommended his suspension had been rejected by Parliament. The DPP, however, rejected the request citing ongoing investigations by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and police into the allegations of fraud and irregularities at NHIF.
“It would, therefore, at this stage be both speculative and premature on my part to give directives you have requested,” Tobiko wrote to Nyong’o.
The letter was copied to EACC acting CEO Jane Muthaura, Police Commissioner, Mathew Iteere, and Permanent Secretaries for Medical Service Mary Ngare and Prime Minister’s office Mohamed Isahakia.
Tobiko also directed the police and EACC to investigate a complaint by Nyong’o that 77 medical providers appointed by the caretaker team to replace a previous list tainted with ‘ghost clinics’ were not formally registered.
NHIF reacted to allegations that it had credited hospitals not registered with the Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board and maintained that the centres in question were registered and that some of them were “known to Kenyans”.
President Kibaki recently ordered the speedy conclusion of the probe into the scandal around the civil servants medical scheme. He promised punitive action would be taken on those found to have “participated in acts that may have compromised the health of the Kenyan people”.
While alluding to the on-going investigations at NHIF, the Head of State said the matter should be quickly resolved.
“I will be expecting an expeditious completion in the ongoing investigations. Civil servants like other taxpaying Kenyans deserve a functional, efficient, and cost- effective health scheme,” the President said.
He warned that the Government would not tolerate persons who plan to undermine efforts aimed at availing quality health services to Kenyans through corruption.
A probe was launched after Prime Minister Raila Odinga suspended the Fund’s Board and CEO after questions arose over non-existent clinics receiving funds under the Civil Servants Medical Scheme. A key provision under the scheme launched in January, is unlimited inpatient and outpatient cover in accredited hospitals, which was earmarked at an initial annual cost of Sh4.2 billion.
But the scheme was halted after allegations of irregularities in contracting health facilities and scandalous payments to service providers. It emerged that hundreds of million of shillings was paid for 21 facilities that were not opened by the time of signing the contract in January. This prompted a parliamentary investigation, which itself was not without intrigues.
The House Health Committee report on controversial NHIF scheme for civil servants raised questions about MPs’ own credibility than that of people it probed. Questions were raised how the committee in its report described the involvement of some players as a “scam to rip-off Kenyans” but failed to recommend any refund.
The report, which recommended that the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission investigates two ministers and some top officials, was thrown out by MPs who accused the committee of doing a shoddy investigation.
Source The Standard
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