NHIS: House passes bill to include poor, vulnerable

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The House of Representatives, on Wednesday, expressed concern over the exclusion of the poor and the vulnerable in the country from the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and passed a bill to include them.

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The Speaker, Mr Yakubu Dogara, put the question on a voice vote whether the bill should pass for a second reading, the lawmakers unanimously supported it.

The concern followed a deliberation on the Bill for an Act to amend the NHIS Act, Cap. N42, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 at the plenary.

The amendment seeks to make it mandatory for every Nigerian to key into the scheme and protect families from financial hardship and for related matters.

The sponsor of the bill, Rep Anayo Nnebe (APGA-Aambra), while presenting his brief, said investigation had shown that the poor and the vulnerable who were the target of the scheme, had failed to take full advantage of the health benefit.

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”The NHIS was established to, among other objectives, ensure that every Nigerian had unfettered access to qualitative and affordable healthcare services and protect families from the financial hardship of huge medical bills.

”It was also to reduce rise in the cost of healthcare services, as well as ensure equitable distribution of the healthcare costs among different income groups,” he said.

Nnebe, however, said that in the course of the investigation, it was discovered that not much was done in the area of awareness and sensitization by relevant departments of the scheme.

”The development has further denied employees the opportunity to key into the scheme, owing to the failure of most employers to open them to the initiative,” he said.

According to him, with over 60 per cent of Nigerian citizens living below poverty level, and the effect this has on the socioeconomic state of the nation, it is my hope that this bill will be accorded accelerated passage.

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