4 May 2014

Zimbabwe: PSMAS Battles to Pay Service Providers

PREMIER Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS)'s woes are far from over as it battles to pay service providers who are now threatening to withdraw their services, it has been established.

This comes hardly two months after the organisation was exposed for paying obscene salaries and other perks to its top executives. The then chief executive officer, Cuthbert Dube was reportedly earning over US$500 000 per month at a time the society was saddled with a US$44 million debt.

Service providers are riled by the fact that PSMAS has reneged on a payment calendar that it had come up with to settle its debts with various service providers which included health institutions, private doctors and pharmacies.

A pharmacist from Kadoma, who requested anonymity, said they were owed in excess of US$100 000 by PSMAS but the society was dragging its feet in honouring its obligations.

"They agreed to a payment calendar but for the past two months they have not been honouring their payment obligations," he said.

Another pharmacist said all efforts to engage the society were hitting a brick wall. He said his business was suffering due to non-payment by PSMAS.

"It is not just us. Many health service providers here in Kadoma are also having a torrid time with the society. How are we supposed to operate under such conditions?" he said.

A PSMAS member Tendai Bete said she was turned away at some pharmacies after presenting her medical aid card to buy medication for her sick daughter.

"I'm so stressed because I have no money but I need to get these drugs. Most pharmacies are not accepting PSMAS cards," she said.

A private doctor in Harare's Avenues area said he was not accepting PSMAS clients because of the difficulties he is having in getting paid the over US$250 000 he is owed.

"We have since stopped accepting PSMAS clients because it does not make business sense," he said.

The doctor said he had been in touch with PSMAS' Group Coordinated Healthcare executive Nicholas Munyonga but no dates or guarantees had been given on when the payment would be done.

Contacted by The Standard, Munyonga refused to comment, referring questions to the society's public relations executive Mavis Gumbo whose mobile number was not reachable.

In February this year PSMAS said it was committed to paying US$16 million every month to settle claims with various service providers.

Acting group chief executive officer Farai Muchena made the assurances while appearing before the Parliamentary Portfolio committee on health.

He also blamed government for failing to pay its dues.


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