18 June 2018

Liberia: Senate Receives Free Health Services, Medical Care Act

Photo: Chevron
A child receiving care at JFK Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia.

An Act to establish a fund to finance the provision of free health services and medical care for the aged and disabled Liberian citizens has been submitted to the Senate for enactment into law.

According to those who crafted the Act titled, "Law on Free Health Services and Medical Care for the Aged, and Disabled," Senators Varney Sherman and Armah Zolu Jallah, a beneficiary of the law, "is a Liberian citizen who is above the age of 65 years, and has no employment or other sources of income to pay for his/her needed health services."

The disabled under the proposed Act, is a Liberian citizen who has physical disability that makes it impossible for him/her to earn an income, and who does not have any source of income to cater for his/her needed medical care.

A disabled referenced in the Act, is a Liberian whose physical or medical impairment is such that he/she is not movable by himself/herself, and therefore, is not employable and does not have any source of income to pay for... needed health services.

If passed into law, the Free Health Services and Medical Care shall be financed by the imposition of US$0.10 cents on each gallon of petroleum products (diesel or gasoline ) imported into the country, for which the importer shall collect from consumers of petroleum products and remit to an account at the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), which carries the title, "Free Health Services and Medical Care Fund."

The Liberia Petroleum Refining Corporation (LPRC), under this law, "shall as agency for licensing importers of petroleum products, ensure and cause to be ensured that all importers. ..shall collect and cause to be collected and deposited into the special account at the CBL for the Free Health Services and Medical Care Fund the US$0.10 cents surcharge on each gallon of gasoline and diesel imported into the country."

The National Social Security and Welfare Corporation (NASSCORP), according to the proposed Act, "shall be the instrument of the government, which shall be responsible for the execution and implementation of this law and shall supervise the performance of the not-for-profit, philanthropic corporation or foundation, which shall be appointed by the President for the management and administration of the Free Health Services and Medical Care Fund."

In order to benefit from the Free Health Services and Medical Fund, "an aged and the disabled person must register with NASSCORP, obtain an identification card, which, when presented at/to any health/medical care delivery service owner/provider shall obligate such owner/provider to serve the required and needed health service and needed medical care to the presenter of the identification card."

The Free Health Services and Medical Care Fund shall be audited bi-annually (twice a year) by the General Auditing Commission, "and each audit report shall be submitted within 30 days after its completion to the Legislature for its necessary action.

One of those crafted the Act, former Senate Protempore, now chair of Senate Committee on Public Works, Armah Jallah, in an interview with our Legislative reporter, said that NASCORP Law only benefit Liberians employed or formerly employed in the mainstream of the country's economy, but no such social welfare is provided by the government or any of its institutions and agencies to the aged and the disabled Liberian citizens.

Authors

J. Burgess Carter

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