Zima en­gages Govt on PSMAS debt

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Pamela Shumba Se­nior Re­porter

THE Zim­babwe Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion (Zima) is ne­go­ti­at­ing with the Gov­ern­ment to as­sist Pre­mier Ser­vice Med­i­cal Aid So­ci­ety (PSMAS) to pay doc­tors about $180 mil­lion aris­ing from the so­ci­ety’s fail­ure to pay for its clients’ treat­ment. PSMAS mainly caters for civil ser­vants. The Min­istry of Fi­nance and Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment re­leased $5 mil­lion in July this year to off­set what the doc­tors were owed by PSMAS af­ter the med­i­cal prac­ti­tion­ers threat­ened to stop ac­cept­ing med­i­cal aid and de­mand cash pay­ments from pa­tients.

Doc­tors and other med­i­cal ser­vice providers are owed in ex­cess of $220 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures from Zima.

Zima sec­re­tary gen­eral Dr Shingi Bopoto yes­ter­day said the Zim­babwe Rev­enue Author­ity (Zimra) was tax­ing doc­tors even if med­i­cal aid so­ci­eties have not paid them.

“The Min­istry of Fi­nance in­ter­vened in July and re­leased funds to off­set some of the money owed to doc­tors and med­i­cal ser­vice providers by PSMAS.

“How­ever, PSMAS still owes more than $180 mil­lion. It’s now to­wards the end of the year and Zimra wants their money. We’re there­fore en­gag­ing the Min­istry of Fi­nance to ne­go­ti­ate for the re­lease of more funds to pay doc­tors and med­i­cal ser­vice providers so that they’re able to pay taxes to Zimra and pro­vide qual­ity ser­vices to their clients,” he said.

Dr Bopoto em­pha­sised the need for health in­sur­ers to pay doc­tors and health ser­vice providers so that the lives of pa­tients are not at risk.

“By not pay­ing doc­tors their dues, med­i­cal aid so­ci­eties are dis­re­gard­ing the law and putting the health of pa­tients at risk.

“There is a law which pre­scribes what must be paid and when this must be paid, which un­for­tu­nately is be­ing dis­re­garded,” he said.

Dr Bopoto ex­pressed con­cern that their mem­bers were be­ing tracked by Zimra over non-pay­ment of tax on claims that would have not been hon­oured by med­i­cal aid so­ci­eties adding that most doc­tors were now be­ing forced to bor­row money to meet tax obli­ga­tions and avoid pros­e­cu­tion for evad­ing tax.

He said en­gag­ing the Min­istry of Fi­nance was one of the debt col­lec­tion meth­ods that they have come up with to re­cover their money.

The Min­is­ter of Fi­nance and Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment Pa­trick Chi­na­masa could not be reached for com­ment.

Early this year, the Gov­ern­ment threat­ened to can­cel li­cences for med­i­cal aid so­ci­eties who were not meet­ing their obli­ga­tions.

PSMAS has been fail­ing to ef­fect claims pay­ments to health ser­vice providers, re­sult­ing in most of its mem­bers be­ing re­jected by some health in­sti­tu­tions.

The so­ci­ety has been fail­ing to pay its em­ploy­ees on time for al­most two years due to work­ing cap­i­tal con­straints. — @ pame­lashumba1

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