The Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana (PSGH) has asked government to seek for a bailout to clear all outstanding indebtedness to service providers under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to save providers businesses from collapse.
The Society has also urged the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) to give priority to the payment of claims arrears “because that was the main purpose of the tax payers contribution to the National Health Insurance Levy (NHIL)”.
The Society called on the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NHIA to redeem the promise made on February 20h February on local Radio Station to service providers that all 2014 arrears would be paid by the close of March.
“Even though today is 21st April 2015, 20 clear days after the deadline set by the CEO himself to settle all the arrears, providers will be magnanimous enough to accept the reimbursement. The PSGH calls on the CEO of the NHIA to redeem his promise to service providers now,” Mr James Ohemeng Kyei, President of PSGH said at a news conference in Accra on Tuesday.
He said the NHIA owes providers, especially the pharmaceutical sector arrears covering eight to 10 months.
He said the pharmaceutical sector, which includes local pharmaceutical manufacturers, pharmaceutical importers and distributors, hospital pharmacies and community pharmacies are probably, the hardest hit by the undue delay in claims payment to providers.
Mr Kyei said due to the delay in the reimbursement, pharmaceutical business are going through very difficult times, suffering from harassment from bankers, suppliers and professional debt collectors for non-payment of loan and other financial obligation.
He said most of the pharmaceutical companies are faced with cash flow challenges and are unable to meet their financial obligations to their suppliers resulting in termination of import and distribution agreements, at best credit facilities amended to strictly cash or letter of credit (LC) business.
Pharmaceutical importers are also being subjected to exchange rate risk, which is very unpredictable under the current economic conditions, saying that the these developments have led to the shortage of many essential medicines in the country since the supply of these medicines were done by the private sector.
He explained that the NHIS as established by Section 26(2) of ACT 852 was to “provide financial access to the basic healthcare services specified under section 30 for residents of the country”.
The Society said it is also worried over the contradictory information on arrears owed NHIA by the Ministry of Finance.
Mr Kyei said while the Finance Minister said all statutory payments including arrears due the NHIA in 2013 and 2014, totaling more than one billion Ghana Cedis had been paid up to January 2015; the CEO of the NHIA disputed it, claiming that the arrears information provided by the Minister was inaccurate.
The PSGH says it finds the altercation between the two government officials reprehensible and therefore calling on them to cross check and validate all information on the National Health Insurance Levy and National Health Insurance Fund before putting it in the public domain.
“The PSGH needs clarification from the NHIA”, Mr Kyei added.