The Kenya Medical Association, KMA, has written to the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Board protesting a move by parliament to scrap medical fees charged at private hospitals. According to the National Assembly, private hospitals should align their medical fees with the government’s Universal Health Coverage Agenda.
Here is the memo sent to the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Board by KMA; dated 17th December, 2018:
“PROFESSIONAL FEES GUIDELINES
The Kenya Medical Association (KMA) is a membership organization for Doctors and Dentists registered to practice in Kenya established in 1968 with the twin mandate of championing the welfare of doctors and advocating for quality healthcare for all.
We are in receipt of your invitation to attend a stakeholders’ meeting to discuss professional fees chargeable by doctors in private practice. We are aware that a special committee of the Board was formed to review this matter pursuant to recommendations by the parliamentary committee on health, allegedly because the current fees are not supportive of the government’s Universal Health Coverage Agenda.
Our position as KMA is as follows:
- Professional fees in private practice do not affect Universal Health Coverage in any way. The argument that NHIF (the National Hospital Insurance Fund) is paying exorbitant rates for this and for patients to go to India reflects failings at NHIF and has nothing to do with professional fee rules promulgated by the Medical Board. NHIF and other payers are allowed by law to negotiate mutually acceptable rates with practitioners, as long the fees do not exceed maximums set in the Rules.
- Based on the Medical Board Professional Fees Rules of 2016, there is no justification to talk about ‘reducing the fees set in the guidelines’, given that the minimum fee as per the Rules is effectively zero. In a free market, the payer and the practitioner may agree to any fees as long as it not exceed the maximum (Fees) set by the Board.
- It is in our view that the clamor for changes in private Practitioners’ fees is a side show meant to distract us from closely scrutinizing how the government and NHIF are utilizing public funds. KMA has said time and again that UHC (Universal Health Care) money should primarily be tax-derived and should be spent firstly on Public facilities in order to reduce the need for poor Kenyans to go to private facilities abroad.
- It is our view that, should the Board succumb to pressure by politicians to tamper with private practitioners’ fees in the guise of supporting UHC, KMA shall reserve its right to advise members to disregard the illegal and unconstitutional Board guidance.
- Further, KMA shall reserve its right to develop independent fee guidelines for members, and shall vigorously defend members’ rights to earn a decent living.”
Dr. Jacqueline Kitulu, President (KMA)