26 January 2013

Kenya: Cotu Urges Employers to Ignore Enhanced NHIF Rates

The Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) has warned the NHIF board against implementation of the enhanced rates until a case against it is determined.

COTU Deputy Secretary General George Muchai says NHIF has not been okayed after the court threw out an application by the Kenya Union of Domestic Hotel Education Institutions Hospitals and Allied Workers (KUDHEIHA).

He said that there was still an order in place which was issued on September 28 2012 that barred NHIF from implementing the new rates.

"The ruling made on Thursday made no reference to orders it granted to COTU staying the new rates and as such the orders are still in force," Muchai said.

He said the new rates will only be effected after the case COTU filed is determined and with input of all stakeholders.

"COTU stands with manly firmness that the new NHIF rates shall not be implemented without prior consultations among the social partners (The Federation of Kenya Employers and COTU). The social partners agreed in 2012 that all employers and workers will not effect any deductions until the matter is resolved and a mutual agreement reached among the partners," he insisted.

On Thursday, Justice Nzioki wa Makau of the Industrial Court declined to grant an injunction stopping the government from implementing the rates until a case lodged by KUDHEIHA was determined.

Justice Makau said that KUDHEIHA could not seek the order because the matter was already before the Court of Appeal, which had not halted its implementation.

"The petitioner is well represented by COTU in the appeal against the High Court's decision allowing implementation of new rates," he ruled on Thursday.

The new rates were supposed to come into effect from October 1, 2012 but KUDHEIHA made its application at the Industrial Court.

Under the revised charges, the highest contributor will remit Sh2,000 per month with the lowest contributor will part with Sh150.

The current levels of contributions stand at between Sh30 and Sh320 per month.

Medical Services Minister Anyang' Nyong'o has been pushing for their implementation saying they will help the government provide quality universal health coverage that would include complex treatments like dialysis.

Players however feel that the fund, which has also been hit by corruption scandals, will not bear any benefits for Kenyans.

There are also plans by the government to launch a new health scheme dubbed the Indigent Fund that will target nine million Kenyans who live below the poverty line.

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