THE federal lawmaker who sponsored the recently signed National Health Insurance Authority Bill, Sen. Yahaya Oloriegbe, has called the Act BuhariCare.
Oloriegbe, who represents Kwara Central at the Senate, stated this on Monday while addressing the Senate Press Corps and other Nigerians on the significance of the Act.
“I could term this bill (Act) as a BuhariCare bill just as what we have in America,” the lawmaker said while commending stakeholders who supported the bill that transformed into the Act.
He said by making health insurance coverage compulsory for every citizen in the nation, more deaths and morbidity would be defeated.
Narrating the bill’s journey through legislative hurdles, he said when he became a federal lawmaker in 2019, he worked with stakeholders, including the World Health Organization (WHO), to galvanize efforts to strengthen the nation’s universal health coverage by ensuring an improvement to health financing by the government.
According to him, 70.5 per cent of Nigerians pay out-of-pocket for health, making it difficult for the majority to have access to health.
He said the Act was a catalyst for accelerated access to healthcare for the nation’s population.
He explained that the era when people died because they didn’t have money for treatment or begged fellow citizens through various platforms for financial aid for treatment should be a history with the Act.
“Before now, health insurance was not mandatory. Section 3 (B) of the Act ensures that health insurance is mandatory for all Nigerians,” he noted when stressing the imperativeness of the government to take health insurance funding more seriously.
He said Section 13 of the Act demanded that every state in the country promote health insurance.
Meanwhile, the Act, which repealed the National Health Insurance Act, does not cover all sicknesses.
Oloriegbe said Nigerians could treat illnesses not covered by health insurance programmes outside the mandatory health coverage which the Act provides for them.
When signed into law in 2014, it took the Federal Government four years to provide funds for the repealed National Health Insurance Act.
Oloriegbe, seeking re-election to the Senate, said the National Assembly would monitor the new Act, ensure it becomes operational immediately, and attract funding in the 2023 budget.
Meanwhile, the lawmaker said the nation’s health sector would continue to experience a brain drain if the government failed to improve welfare for human resources for health in the country.
Oloriegbe has worked in the public health sector, including the Health Reform Foundation of Nigeria (HERFON) where he was executive secretary before his election as senator.
President Muhammadu Buhari signed the NHIA into law on May 19.