, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 7- The government has indicated its intention to negotiate with the Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) and Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) over the contentious National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) rates.
Labour Minister John Munyes said his ministry would soon call a meeting to discuss the issue but he called for sobriety until consensus is reached.
“We need to engage COTU and FKE and allow them to present their issues, for government to take this matter forward. So I call for a bit of status quo so that we discuss this matter further. I also talked to Prof Anyang Nyongo (Medical Services Minister) to see how we can get an amicable solution to this,” he said in response to remarks by the trade’s union Secretary General Francis Atwoli and the federation’s Executive Director Jacqueline Mugo.
There’s been a stand off among the three parties over the NHIF’s attempt to implement a new policy that would see its members’ contribution go up by more than 500 percent towards an insurance health scheme. The matter now is before the courts.
Both FKE and COTU claim that they were not consulted in the discussions that would see the lowest contributor pay Sh150 per month while those earning Sh100,000 would have to part with Sh2,000.
Mrs Mugo faulted NHIF officials for misleading Kenyans that money raised in the new plan would benefit all Kenyans, including those that do not contribute towards it.
“It is a false promise to Kenyans to tell them that once the contributions to NHIF are collected, every Kenyans will be free to go for medical attention and they will have medical cover. That is a false promise,” Mrs Mugo said.
The three officials spoke during a conference on conflict prevention organised by COTU and officiated by President Mwai Kibaki who steered clear of commenting on the matter.
However, they vowed to continue pushing for a properly structured insurance plan that has been developed in consultation with all parties.
Pointing to schemes that have been executed in other countries, Mr Atwoli said proper mechanisms had been put in place to ensure their smooth implementation.
“We believe that the current National Hospital Insurance Fund has no capacity to handle Sh31.5 billion they want to collect from poor workers,” the Secretary General said.
On its part, the NHIF has admitted that it is yet to enter into agreements with private hospitals and other medical institutions to provide the proposed medical cover.