Reps summon Health Minister over suspended NHIS boss, demand N351bn audit from HMOs

The Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, has been summoned to appear before the House of Representatives on Thursday to defend his decision to suspend the Executive Secretary of NHIS, Prof. Yusuf Usman.

Chike Okafor, Chairman of the House Committee on Healthcare Services, which is conducting the investigation into the implementation of  the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), stated this in Abuja on Sunday while briefing journalists.

Okafor also announced the House’s ultimatum to Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) to submit audited accounts of how the N351bn spent on the scheme since 2005 was utilized.

He stated that 35 of the HMOs had so far failed to comply with the committee’s directive, noting that only 24 of the 59 directed HMOs had produced their audited accounts.

He emphasized that the deadline to the HMOs would expire on Wednesday, a day before the minister’s visit.

Explaining the reason for the deadline to the HMOs, he said that it was to allow the committee to tidy up its report for presentation to the House before members would proceed on their annual vacation this week.

Okafor, a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from Imo State, added, “As we announced on the final day of the public hearing on the allegations of fraud in the health insurance administration and the maltreatment of enrollees on NHIS, the committee sent auditors to Lagos State to thoroughly scrutinise the books of the HMOs.

“This was done in order to compare the figures the NHIS said it paid to HMOs overtime with what they actually received.

“So far, the auditors have gone through the accounts of 24 of them; 35 of these companies are yet to meet with those we sent.

“The NHIS provided us with all the documents to show how much they paid, but we cannot conclude the investigation without checking what the HMOs received. This is why we have given them till Wednesday to allow for a checking of their accounts.

“But if they don’t comply, we will be compelled to move on because we are bent on submitting our report on Thursday.”

The health minister’s scheduled appearance in the House this week will mark a significant point in the continuing messy battle between him and the suspended NHIS boss.

Recall that the health minister had, two weeks ago, suspended Usman from office over allegations of corruption just as the House probe was in progress.

The House had directed the minister to recall Usman and to halt any plans to re-accredit the HMOs pending the outcome of its investigation.

Prof Adewole has yet to recall the embattled Usman who continues to publically maintain that the minister has no power to suspend him.

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