The Chairperson of Parliament’s Health Committee Dr. Micheal Bukenya has today expressed fear that the upcoming elections might overshadow discussions on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) Bill.
He made these remarks while addressing a media engagement workshop that was held at Golf Course Hotel, Kampala on Tuesday August 4, 2020.
Speaking today, Bukenya disclosed that they had made great strides as far as fast tracking the enactment of this law that seeks to accelerate universal provision of health care is concerned.
Ever since this bill was tabled by Government a year ago, he intimated that his appendage had bench marked and solicited views from stakeholders and were in the midst of compiling a report.
“We have completed our report and its only drafting which Mr. Bagaga (Clerk) is finalizing. But we have agreed on what we actually want to present. And as soon as he is through, we are going to interface with the sponsor (mover),” he said.
However, Bukenya observed that this process might slightly stagnate considering the fact that Uganda is headed for elections.
“Of course, now the only challenge is the season which we are in. Many of the stakeholders that would be very important in this case, I think the minister as you know she is also actively engaged somewhere. So that is the only rate limiting factor,” he intimated.
That said, Bukenya expressed optimism that by the time the tenure of the 10th Parliament expires in May, this law will be up and running hinging on Speaker Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga’s backing.
“She is quite interested in the passing of this bill and she usually calls and asks on the progress. And that’s why I told you that by the end of the session we shall have the bill as Parliament,” he assured.
“We shall be able to forward it for His Excellency President Yoweri Museveni for his comments and signature,” Bukenya added.
The Bill in focus
The bill dubbed “The National Health Insurance Scheme Bill” of 2019 seeks among other things to accelerate access to quality and affordable health care across Uganda.
Once it is passed into law, Ugandans aged 18 and above shall be required to make a contribution towards a fund that will take care of their Medicare.
On the other hand, Ronald Bagaga, a legal Counsel to this appendage says that this law is a supplementary mechanism to health financing that is largely sustained by out of pocket contributions and donor funds.
That said, Bagaga says that this undertaking only caters for citizens of Uganda residents in the country.
“When it comes to residence, people who are visitors will not be liable to contribute because they are not ordinarily resident. To determine who is a resident we will need to look at the authorization granted by the immigration,” he explained.
According to clause 21 of this bill, salaried employees shall be required to forfeit a certain amount on a monthly basis while those in the informal sector will make an annual contribution.
Failure or delay by an informal sector worker to pay this stipend shall attract a penalty five times higher.