New twist as Raila sacks NHIF board

The drama in the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) took another twist on Monday when Prime Minister Raila Odinga announced the suspension of the board and ordered a forensic audit into the management of the health insurer.

Mr Odinga suspended the board along with the chief executive officer, Mr Richard Kerich, for three months and in place appointed a caretaker committee.
Mr Odinga also appointed a deputy secretary in the Ministry of Medical services, Mr A.A. Adan, to act as the CEO during the period.
The action comes just a day after Medical Services minister Anyang’ Nyong’o reinstated the NHIF board and its chief executive. Read (Now Nyong’o lifts sacking of NHIF bosses)
They had sacked by acting Civil Service head Francis Kimemia on Saturday.
Mr Kimemia suspended the board to pave the way for investigations into alleged malpractice at the national health insurer.
But on Sunday, Prof Nyong’o said Mr Kimemia had no powers to “micro-manage” his ministry.
However, Mr Kimemia warned the officials to stay away from the NHIF premises.

On Monday, Mr Odinga told a press conference at his office that the decision was arrived at after a consultative meeting with stakeholders.
The PM said the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu), Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and the Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) were involved in the consultations before their representatives were enlisted in the caretaker committee.
He said the caretaker committee would run the affairs of the health insurer until investigations were finalised.
“We recommend that an independent firm undertake a forensic audit of the affairs of the NHIF as we also engage the Efficiency and Monitory Unit, which falls under my office to corroborate the findings,” he said.
On Monday, Government spokesman Alfred Mutua, said the medical scheme for civil servants had not been suspended following the controversy surrounding its implementation.
During Labour Day celebrations, Cotu secretary-general Francis Atwoli issued a two-week notice of a national workers’ strike should the government fail to withdraw plans to effect new increased monthly NHIF premiums.
Mr Kimemia also froze any transactions between NHIF and the firms that benefited from the Sh4.2 billion medical scheme for civil servants.
On Thursday, drama unfolded at NHIF when the CEO was sent packing by Prof Muga but was reinstated minutes later by Prof Nyong’o.
Prof Muga also suspended four other top managers and appointed Mr George Midiwo, a brother of Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo, to act as CEO.
But Prof Nyong’o revoked the orders and instead suspended Prof Muga.
On Monday, Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere said police would investigate corruption allegations at NHIF.
“We have been following closely what is happening at the NHIF and we shall carry out investigations since the matter involves public funds,” said Mr Iteere at the Coast provincial police headquarters in Mombasa.
And addressing a news conference at Parliament Buildings, Medical Services assistant minister Kambi Kazungu and MP Boni Khalwale (Ikolomani) called for the sacking of Prof Nyong’o.
They said there was “sufficient evidence” on corruption at the NHIF, yet the minister was dilly-dallying in investigations.
They argued that the minister’s push to have the scandal investigated through the Efficiency Monitoring Unit was a ploy to cover it up.
Dr Khalwale, who chairs the Public Accounts Committee said he would seek a special audit into the controversial payments the NHIF made to private clinics.
Separately, Cotu has hit at Prof Nyong’o for alleging that the umbrella workers’ union was playing politics in the scandal. Mr Atwoli termed the allegation as outrageous in a statement to the media.
The Consumer Information Network asked President Kibaki and the Prime Minister to jointly deal with the NHIF scandal.
But teachers and civil servants on Monday supported the NHIF board and called for an end to “mob justice” of its members.
Knut secretary-general David Okuta and the Union of Kenya Civil Servants boss Tom Ndege called for independent investigations by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.

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