President William Ruto’s Social Health Insurance Act received a major boost today, Friday, January 19 after the Court of Appeal lifted temporary orders that barred its implementation.
The appellate court overturned the orders that were granted by the High Court and allowed the new Act to replace the defunct NHIF Act.
“We hereby suspend the orders of the High Court restraining the implementation and or enforcement of The Social Health Insurance Act, 2023, The Primary Health Care Act, 2023 and The Digital Health Act, 2023,” Justices Patrick Kiage, Pauline Nyamweya and Grace Ngenye ruled.
The judges added that the Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha was right in warning that barring the Social Health Insurance Act would jeopardize the sector.
A photo of Health CS Susan Nakhumicha.
They also noted that the local citizens who are supposed to benefit from the Insurance Act were not party to the case in court.
Nonetheless, the court suspended a directive ordering beneficiaries to only access healthcare services where their contributions to the Social Health Insurance Fund are up to date and active.
This directive was provided under Section 26(5) of the Act which also stipulated that access to public services would only be granted to contributors.
“The Primary Health Care Act, 2023 Page 21 of 22 and The Digital Health Act, 2023, save for the following provisions of the Social Health Insurance Act that shall remain suspended pending the hearing and determination of the applicant’s appeal in Civil Appeal No. E984 of 2023.
“Section 26(5) which makes registration and contribution a precondition for dealing with or accessing public services from the national and county governments or their entities. (b) Section 27(4) which provides that a person shall only access healthcare services where their contributions to the Social Health Insurance Fund are up to date and active. (c) Section 47(3) which obligates every Kenyan to be uniquely identified for purposes of provision of health services,” they added.
They also ordered the registrar of the court to allocate a hearing date for Civil Appeal No. E984 of 2023 no later than March 31, 2024, to give a way forward on the suspended sections.
On November 27, 2023, the High Court issued orders barring the implementation of the new funding system after Health CS Nakhumicha gazetted its rollout.
This was after the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacist and Dentists Union (KMPDU) filed a petition against the gazettement.
In their case, the unions argued that the government was implementing a new funding system without public participation and that the new Act was going to disenfranchise the local citizens from accessing government services.
Contrary to this, CS Nhakumicha stated that after the system structure had been rolled out, the Ministry of Health together with NHIF, would determine those eligible to access it or retire early without locking out any Kenyan already enrolled in the defunct NHIF.
“For those exiting, I’m sure you’ll want to know what the exit package is. We have agreed to a team of people from the ministry, NHIF, and the Public Service Commission to sit together and develop a package,” Nakhumicha clarified on November 27, 2023.
President William Ruto speaking during a burial ceremony in Nyandarua County on January 2, 2024.