The Ministry of Finance has released GH¢76.6 million to the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) to settle part of its indebtedness to service providers.
According to a source at the ministry, the amount was released last April, while GH¢80 million was paid to the authority last February. It said the NHIA was in arrears of GH¢514.7 million to service providers but stated that part of that amount was included in GH¢2.1 billion the government intended to release to the health sector this year.
Though the source would not disclose the exact amount to be paid this year it said, “we will definitely release a substantial amount to defray debts owed the NHIS and its providers.”
The source was reacting to threats from the Chamber of Pharmacy, Ghana (CPG) to stop supplying medicines on credit to health service providers under the NHIS, if the government did not provide more funds to providers.
According to the source, the ministry had not defaulted in the monthly release of funds and was committed to ensuring timely release of the funds.
“What is in contention is the GH¢514.7 million arrears, which is different from the monthly payments to the NHIS.
“We will make sure what is due this month will be disbursed but then arrears will be paid overtime,” it stated. Asked when the next arrears would be settled, the source said Ghana was in the middle of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme and it was, therefore, important for expenditure to be rationalised.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has pleaded with service providers under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to bear with the government, since it was committed to the payment of all arrears owed.
The Head of Public Relations of the Ministry of Health, Mr Robert Cudjoe, said the payment of a month’s arrears was in line with a road map drawn up to settle all debts and urged the service providers to bear with the government.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic in Accra last Thursday, Mr Cudjoe urged all partners in the sector to bear in mind the financial challenges for which reason the road map had been drawn.
He explained that by the road map, a month’s arrears was to be paid to all service providers in May. That was to be followed by the payment of four months’ arrears in August and September.
He said the rest of the arrears were to be subsequently cleared after that. Mr Cudjoe expressed surprise at the stance of the service providers, because he said they were partners in the sector and the payment plans of the arrears had been widely publicised.
“They expressed no misgivings with it, so it is surprising they are expressing their unhappiness after the first payment was made,” he said.After the clearing of all arrears, a new regime in the payment was to be instituted, where each claim would be paid when submitted and after a thorough audit had been conducted, Mr Cudjoe added.
He reiterated the government’s commitment to clear all arrears, and urged all partners to likewise cooperate to ensure that no arrears remained in the sector.
Last Wednesday, the CPG threatened to stop supplying medicines on credit to health service providers under the NHIS if the government did not release more funds to pay arrears owned them.
The Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG), for its part, expressed shock and disappointment at the government’s decision to reimburse providers with only a month of the 12-month arrears.