Hospitals to Be Fined Ksh 1M for Detaining Patients in New Bill
On Tuesday, March 28, Kirinyaga County Woman Representative Jane Njeri Maina presented the Health Amendment Bill 2023, which seeks to fine health facilities Ksh1 million if they detain a patient or dead body in order to force the family to settle unpaid medical bills.
The lawmaker defended the new bill when she appeared before the National Assembly Budget and Appropriations Committee led by Kiharu Member of Parliament Ndindi Nyoro in Nairobi.
Njeri argued that Africans have an attachment to their dead relatives and deemed it unfair for hospitals to detain the bodies over non-payments.
“We know that Africans have an attachment to their dead. We know that Africans are not people who will say that because they cannot afford the bill, let us leave the dead body in the hospital. A hospital is like any other debtor.
Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro speaks during the launch of the Masomo Bora Campaign in Kiharu Constituency on February 15, 2023.
“They know very well the psychological attachment that Africans have to dead bodies. So they take mere advantage of that fact to ensure they don’t release the dead body to the family to be laid to rest,” she stated.
Noting that dead bodies cannot be bought or sold, she insisted that it is unfair for health facilities to detain them. They can’t be used as security for monetary gain.
She added that the only reason health facilities hold dead bodies is to force the families to settle the medical bills because eventually, they end up releasing the body.
This, she says, amounts to the psychological torture of the bereaved families noting that a majority of those who were not able to clear medical bills come from poor households.
In her bill, Maina argued that medical facilities should get reimbursements from the national government.
If the proposed law sails through, the national government will appropriate funds to national referral hospitals to alleviate the shortage that will be caused by unpaid medical bills.
Additionally, the national government will provide conditional grants to county governments worth Ksh50 million to deal with the revenue lost in health facilities in their jurisdictions.
This came even as the government struggles to prepare the budget for the financial year 2023/2024.
Last year, Njeri Maina paid Ksh1.3 million so that the body of a dead person could be released from Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral, and Research Hospital (KUTRRH) funeral home.
A photo of Kirinyaga County Woman Representative Jane Njeri Maina.