After waiting on government for 15 years, said Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, a Bill on medical insurance will be introduced by the Committee on Health and legislated by Parliament during the current session.
The current session commenced in June 2019 and ends in May 2020.
While receiving a petition from the Kabarole District Elders’ Council, Kadaga said the medical insurance law will address concerns by elders that they should be exempted from making mandatory contributions to the scheme.
“On the general medical insurance for all citizens, we have been asking government for about 15 years for a medical insurance Bill for all citizens…I have told the Health Committee to draft our own Bill, which we are going to handle and pass in this session,” said Kadaga.
Mr Amos Manyira, the Chairperson of Kabarole District Elders’ Council submitted to Speaker Kadaga an eight point wish list, which included cries for medical insurance, representation in Parliament, sorting endless land wrangles and a monthly stipend for elders.
Last week, Cabinet approved a medical insurance Bill named the National Health Insurance Scheme, which the Ministry of Health is spearheading.
In the proposal, which officials from the Health Ministry defended at a news conference last week, workers will surrender 4 per cent of their monthly salary to finance the scheme.
The rest of the population in the informal sector, it was proposed, will spend a monthly Shs100,000 for the scheme.
Elders, the disabled and street kids were enlisted among those who will get free medical cover.
The proposal has elicited support from a section of Ugandans, but workers criticize it as a new burden on their purse.
Mr Manyira said a special revolving fund for the elderly should be created, so that they can evade microfinance institutions, which he says are hesitant to approve their loan requests “because they think we are about to die and can therefore not be trusted with loans”.
On the elders’ complaint about lack of representation in Parliament, Kadaga cascaded the blame to government, which she said has been dragging its feet on electoral reforms for long, where such proposals could be considered.
“As you may have heard, I have been battling with the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs [Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire] and the Attorney General; I have been telling them to bring the reforms so that our people can be represented,” said Kadaga.
“I had given them an ultimatum of up to April this year but they have not complied but we shall continue putting them on pressure,” she added.
Kadaga also blamed the failure to roll out the elders’ monthly stipend on government, which he said cancelled funds approved by Parliament for the purpose.
“As Parliament, we passed the resolution that all elders in Uganda should be given money; we even appropriated money for that but when it went to Cabinet, it was cancelled,” said Kadaga.
Kadaga was hosted by area MP Sylvia Rwabwogo (NRM, Kabarole district), Hon Alex Ruhunda (NRM, Fort Portal Municipality) and local leaders.
A Sacco for the elderly in Kabarole was also launched, with Speaker Kadaga as its patron. She contributed Shs5 million for the Sacco.