NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 24 – The government is now free to implement the new proposed National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) rates after the Industrial Court threw out a case challenging them.
Justice Nzioki wa Makau declined to grant an injunction stopping the government from implementing the rates until a case lodged by Kenya Union of Domestic Hotel Education Institutions Hospitals and Allied Workers (KUDHEIHA) was determined.
Justice Makau said that KUDHEIHA could not seek the order because the matter was already before the Court of Appeal, which had not halted its implementation.
“The petitioner is well represented by COTU (Central Organisation of Trade Union) in the appeal against the High Court’s decision allowing implementation of new rates,” he ruled on Thursday.
The court was also of the view that the petitioner was well represented in the negotiations leading to the proposed rates.
COTU is yet to obtain an order blocking the government from affecting the rates pending determination of the main appeal.
The trade union moved to court arguing that it was improper for the NHIF to increase the rates without consulting Kenyan workers. The court however quashed the application giving the government the green light to implement them.
The new rates were supposed to come into effect from October 1, 2012 but KUDHEIHA made its application at the Industrial Court.
Under the revised charges, the highest contributor will remit Sh2,000 per month with the lowest contributor will part with Sh150.
The current levels of contributions stand at between Sh30 and Sh320 per month.
Medical Services Minister Anyang’ Nyong’o has been pushing for their implementation saying they will help the government provide quality universal health coverage that would include complex treatments like dialysis.
Players however feel that the fund, which has also been hit by corruption scandals, will not bear any benefits for Kenyans.
There are also plans by the government to launch a new health scheme dubbed the Indigent Fund that will target nine million Kenyans who live below the poverty line.