Kisumu’s free healthcare ambitions dealt a blow by Finance bill,2018

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Kisumu’s free healthcare ambitions dealt a blow by Finance bill,2018

Kisumu’s free healthcare ambitions dealt a blow by Finance bill,2018

Kisumu county free healthcare ambitions under the flagship of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) could be negated by hefty fees proposed in the Finance Bill, 2018. In the proposed taxes, the county has introduced Sh 5,000 maternity charges, going against free maternity care policy of the national government.

Kisumu is among four counties piloting the Sh44.6 billion Jubilee government flagship UHC project, which seeks to make healthcare cheaper for all residents. With just the Sh500 a month, National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) covers, residents should all primary health services at no additional cost.

Levies illegal

Residents have rejected the taxes saying the county would be denying them access to free medical care. Kisumu County Residents Voice chairman Audi Ogada said the levies imposed in the health sector were unconstitutional and illegal. “We are really disappointed by the county government for taxing its residents who should be having access to free healthcare. Maternity should be free of charge and other absurd charges dropped.

The county should put the life of its citizens first,” said Mr Ogada. County assembly Health Committee vice chair Seth Okumu, while responding to the outcries, urged the residents to register with the National Hospital Insurance Fund, arguing that all costs imposed would be covered by the insurer. “Our dear citizens, what I can tell all of you is that nothing is free, and if it is free, someone is paying for it. So I urge all of you to register with NHIF and Linda Mama so that medical costs and delivery charges will be catered for,” Mr Okumu said. Former Kisumu mayor Priscah Auma sided with the residents, saying a lot of proposals were made every time the county engaged its citizens but no implementation was done.

“The county has not done enough to help its citizens. Every time the public hands their proposals to the county, nothing is implemented. I want to call upon the county chief executive to listen and help the people,” said Ms Auma.

New taxes

The new taxes undergoing public participation will see patients pay more for daily medical services at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital. Patients will have to pay Sh400 per day, which is 100 per cent fee increment charged for one to be accommodated in the wards if the new Kisumu County Finance Bill, 2018 is approved. Fees for cesarean delivery have been pushed to Sh7,000 as male circumcision is charged at Sh1,500. Patients transferred to the ICU will pay Sh2,000 per day and an extra Sh600 per hour for oxygen use. The Bill will also impose Sh1,500 for medical examination report (P3 form) and medical students in attachment pay Sh1,000 per month and student fee of Sh3,000.

“Our governor is preaching free medical care and now the same county is taxing medical service heavily. How will we survive?” asked Mama Aluoch, a hotelier. ALSO READ: Kisumu County's new tax areas opposed Members of the county assembly are expected to revise the Bill it is gazetted. City residents said if the Bill is passed, they would move to court to have it abolished.
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