Embakasi Central MP proposes new Bill to help waive hospital bills

Embakasi Central MP proposes new Bill to help waive hospital bills

Patients who die while receiving treatment in public hospitals or those rushed to public health institutions for emergency services may be exempted from payment of fees if a Bill by Embakasi Central MP Benjamin Gathiru Mwangi succeeds.

The Bill in its draft stage, is in response to the suffering of patients who have been detained in hospitals for non-payment of bills and relatives whose kin’s bodies have been detained for years over pending fees.

The bill barring public health institutions from imposing any fees for medical services rendered to patients who subsequently die while undergoing treatment.

The bill also seeks to insulate from medical fees, any patient who is rushed to a public health institution for medical attention in emergency situations.

This proposal according to the legislator is in compliance with Article 43(2) of the Constitution on economic and social rights that include access to emergency medical treatment.

The Health Cabinet Secretary, according to the proposed law, may make regulations for the fees to be paid to access services in a public health facility.

The health committee in the national assembly is consulting on the content of the Bill, before approving it for publication.

Some committee members however argue that though the Bill may be well meaning, implementing it would be near unrealistic largely due to its financial implications.

Though MP Mwangi argues that enactment of the Bill would not lead to additional expenditure of public funds, the health committee holds that the proposed law will adversely affect hospitals’ finances.

Last month, Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) was forced to release more than 250 patients it had detained for non-payment of bills, following an expose by Citizen TV.

The public uproar painting a picture on the harsh reality in public health institution, with tough economic times hitting hard the affected patients and their relatives.

Statistics last month indicated that patients owed KNH, Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) as well as Kakamega County Referral hospital up to Ksh.6.6 billion.

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Story By Francis Gachuri
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