Inside MP’s plan to save patients who can’t raise heavy medical bills

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Nyando MP Jared Okelo, in his amendments, wants all hospitals, both public and private, not to detain anyone over bills but instead to reach a mutual agreement on how to settle the bills.

The proposed law is currently in its second reading and the MP wants a relook of the Medical Practitioners and Dentists Act 253 to compel any health personnel or facility to pay up to Sh5 million fine or serve a jail term of up to five years for detaining bodies or patients.

Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital

“No health institution in the country shall detain or otherwise cause, directly or indirectly, the detention of the body of a patient who died after or during treatment for reasons of non-payment, in part or in full, of hospital bills or any other medical expenses,” reads part of the proposed amendments.

“Patients who have fully or partially recovered and who are discharged or wish to leave health institutions but are financially incapable to settle their hospital bills or other medical bills shall be allowed to leave the health institution,” adds the bill.

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Last year, the Auditor-General accused KNH of failing to seal loopholes that saw it lose Sh47.5 million in unpaid medical bills in the 2015-2016 financial year.

The report showed that the hospital has over the years lost more than Sh500 million, as patients sneak out without paying their bills.

In August 2017, a patient at the KNH committed suicide by jumping off the seventh floor after he was unable to pay the medical expenses.

Mr Maurice Chege had been discharged but could not be allowed to leave due to the medical bills. He died on the spot.

Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret was forced to waive unpaid bills amounting to Sh1 billion.

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