Faour: Hospital bills to be settled with treasury bonds

File - Wael Abu Faour speaks during an interview in Beirut, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

BEIRUT: Health Minister Wael Abu Faour said Monday that the government would honor its overdue payments to hospitals by issuing treasury bonds, proposing that the National Social Security Fund increase its reimbursements in line with a price cut on medication.

“We have reached an agreement with the prime minister and the finance minister to create a committee that would grant hospitals their rights by issuing treasury bonds,” Abu Faour told reporters in a news conference, after meeting Sleiman Haroun, the head of the Association of Private Hospitals.

The minister said the government owed hospitals an estimated $80 million incurred by paying the medical expenses of citizens covered under the NSSF and other poor people who do not qualify for the fund.

The minister said he discussed with Haroun measures the Health Ministry had recently implemented, including a new program to automatically audit hospital invoices.

“The system does not target hospitals that are applying the law and respecting citizens. Hospitals that violate the law and increase bills as well as neglecting patients’ rights are the target,” Abu Faour said.

Abu Faour denied claims that the recent price decrease of some medications had led to the NSSF covering less of the cost, forcing citizens to pay more.

“Patients are not paying more. ... Before the price reduction, the pharmacists’ share of the overall price was very high. But some of pharmacists only used to take half of their share, allowing patients to hand in their bill to the NSSF based on the original price.”

He also said he proposed that the NSSF increase its coverage in line with the price reduction.

“I sought to resolve this issue with the NSSF management, especially since the price reduction was almost 20 percent, which means that the NSSF bill has gone down by 20 percent. Therefore, the NSSF should increase its contribution by 85 to 95 percent,” he said.

He also said the NSSF would maintain its 10 percent profit margin.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 15, 2014, on page 5.




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