Parliament has revised the budget for the year starting July to include Sh600 million allocation for free medical cover for senior citizens.
The 523,000 beneficiaries, who are entitled to State-sponsored National Hospital Insurance Fund cover, have never enjoyed the free cover that comes alongside a monthly stipend unveiled in January 2018.
The Budget and Appropriations Committee proposed to the Treasury the additional allocation for the State Department of Social Protection.
“Additional allocation of Sh600 million for cash transfer for older persons as a grant for a monthly subscription to the NHIF,” said the committee in its recommendations tabled in the House last week.
The senior citizens have complained of frustrations in their effort to access the free medical cover since its launch last year.
Some have been turned away from accredited medical facilities despite their names being in the beneficiaries list.
The senior citizens are entitled to Sh2,000 a month, which is paid every two months in a lump sum of Sh4,000.
The stipend was introduced to ease old age poverty in a country where less than 10 percent of senior citizens have a pension.
The Social Protection Department, which is mandated to oversee implementation of the programme, made the last payment to beneficiaries in March after a six-month hitch.
Delays in payment were linked to a switch to an account-based model, where funds are sent directly to beneficiaries’ bank accounts as opposed to the old card-based system where banks relied on customer verification documents — mainly ID card and passport — and signatures to confirm their identities.
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