Senate Receives Free Health Services, Medical Care Act

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1378
Sen. Armah Zolu Jallah

-For the aged, disabled Liberians

An Act to establish a fund to finance the provision of free health services and medical care for the aged and disabled Liberian citizens has been submitted to the Senate for enactment into law.

According to those who crafted the Act titled, “Law on Free Health Services and Medical Care for the Aged, and Disabled,” Senators Varney Sherman and Armah Zolu Jallah, a beneficiary of the law, “is a Liberian citizen who is above the age of 65 years, and has no employment or other sources of income to pay for his/her needed health services.”

The disabled under the proposed Act, is a Liberian citizen who has physical disability that makes it impossible for him/her to earn an income, and who does not have any source of income to cater for his/her needed medical care.
A disabled referenced in the Act, is a Liberian whose physical or medical impairment is such that he/she is not movable by himself/herself, and therefore, is not employable and does not have any source of income to pay for…needed health services.

If passed into law, the Free Health Services and Medical Care shall be financed by the imposition of US$0.10 cents on each gallon of petroleum products (diesel or gasoline ) imported into the country, for which the importer shall collect from consumers of petroleum products and remit to an account at the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), which carries the title, “Free Health Services and Medical Care Fund.”

The Liberia Petroleum Refining Corporation (LPRC), under this law, “shall as agency for licensing importers of petroleum products, ensure and cause to be ensured that all importers. ..shall collect and cause to be collected and deposited into the special account at the CBL for the Free Health Services and Medical Care Fund the US$0.10 cents surcharge on each gallon of gasoline and diesel imported into the country.”

The National Social Security and Welfare Corporation (NASSCORP), according to the proposed Act, “shall be the instrument of the government, which shall be responsible for the execution and implementation of this law and shall supervise the performance of the not-for-profit, philanthropic corporation or foundation, which shall be appointed by the President for the management and administration of the Free Health Services and Medical Care Fund.”

In order to benefit from the Free Health Services and Medical Fund, “an aged and the disabled person must register with NASSCORP, obtain an identification card, which, when presented at/to any health/medical care delivery service owner/provider shall obligate such owner/provider to serve the required and needed health service and needed medical care to the presenter of the identification card.”

The Free Health Services and Medical Care Fund shall be audited bi-annually (twice a year) by the General Auditing Commission, “and each audit report shall be submitted within 30 days after its completion to the Legislature for its necessary action.

One of those crafted the Act, former Senate Protempore, now chair of Senate Committee on Public Works, Armah Jallah, in an interview with our Legislative reporter, said that NASCORP Law only benefit Liberians employed or formerly employed in the mainstream of the country’s economy, but no such social welfare is provided by the government or any of its institutions and agencies to the aged and the disabled Liberian citizens.

8 COMMENTS

  1. A legislative Act which grants free medical care to the disabled, senior citizens, the unemployed, the poor and others is without doubt humane and of course one of its kind. But there is a troubling issue at Liberian hospitals. From reliable insider sources, we are constantly informed that the hospitals in Liberia are not functioning adequately.

    Warning:
    If the insider sources are correct, hospital administrators in Liberia have a responsibility to do something. If nothing’s done to correct the apalling situation at Liberia’s hospitals, the beneficiaries of the said Act will be unhelped.

    A thought, not a sermon.

  2. A good initiative but at the same time the GoL is cutting funding from hospitals and health workers salaries, so the care will be provided but the quality will be worse than ever before. The money that was cut from civil servants salaries (which includes health care workers) likely went towards the 150 day deliverables . The cuts were not about savings but freeing up money already in the budget (civil servants salaries) to put towards funding the Presidents 150 day deliverables. In this case Liberians are literally getting what they paid for. Its no different from what the TWP used to do, this time its just disguised as an austerity measure. The cuts, which are illegal to begin with, should have been initiated as part of Fiscal Year 18/19 if anything.

  3. There should be free health care for every citizen of this country. We just have to eliminate corruption and misappropriation of public funds. As for income, Liberia has tons of options to generate such funds, diamond, gold, iron ore, maritime services,timber,etc,etc. This bill is merely theoretical. The services offered at Liberian hospitals are unfortunately of very low quality. There are not many choices.

  4. Well, it is a good news, unlike it lack substance. Reason: our country has more natural resources then Cuba. Cuba has more train medical doctors per population density in the Western Hemisphere then any other country. Cuba sent more trained doctors to help us fight our EBOLA in 2014 then any of our FRIENDS. The only thing I know that Cuba exports is CIGAR.

    We sell our natural resources, take loan and use the money to import doctors, engineers, and other technical train people and pay them in high currency to do our jobs. WOW, good idea? I called it a legacy of CHAIN ERROR . Because that’s what was passed down to us. So, we find ourselves repeating the circle.

    Our law makers are about to get free health care, at the expense of taxpayers. Do these lawmakers know that there is not enough trained medical staffs, no good hospitals? Do they ( the lawmakers), know that the masses don’t have any safety net to fall back on. If you are old, poor, disabled, unemployed, you are on your own. Some of us have to leave our homeland in pursuit of knowledge.
    Just my thought… From Australia.

  5. This is no darn “good news.” The thought or intent may be good, but the undergirding logistics or approach is concave, which makes it bad! Why? Because, when there is additional tax levied on gasoline for this incentive, then it will obviously not be free as portrayed. Gasoline importers will not absorb that additional levy without recouping it by shifting that burden onto consumers. Meaning this ill-conceived idea will inflate the cost of goods and services in the country, to the extent it may kill the very “aged and disabled” before they could reach any hospital door. What others have done elsewhere instead, is to levy this preconceived tax on luxury goods such as cigarettes, liquors, (including domestic booze, especially beer) certain category of vehicles, etc., etc. Just my opinion too.

    • I agree, placing the tax on luxury goods especially those tied to health complications would be best. The question is whether these taxes would generate enough to cover the free healthcare of the targeted groups? Hopefully they did their homework and considered all options.

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