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Lebanon News

Lebanese hospitals threaten to cut services over debt

Suleiman Haroun, the head of the Syndicate of Hospitals, speaks during a press conference in Beirut, Tuesday, July 15, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s private hospitals warned Sunday that they would turn away patients on welfare unless the government began paying down the more than $113 million it owed them, while also calling for payments to increase in line with their expenses.

“The hospitals are unable to continue providing medical and hospitalization services in light of the fees paid for these services and the delay in paying financial dues by the public insurance institutions,” the Syndicate of Hospitals said a statement Sunday.

“The low financial fees are costing the hospitals losses of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and this is pushing many hospitals to stop receiving some patients with nonurgent cases.”

To cover such losses, the hospitals called on public insurance institutions to increase their payments to keep up “with the rise in the prices of medicines, fuel, electricity, wages, nutrition and worldwide prices of medical equipment.”

The hospitals said they would have to reduce the services provided to patients who rely on the National Social Security Fund, the Health Ministry or Cooperative of Public Sector Employees to emergencies cases only if the ministry failed to pay the outstanding debt.

“Since the year 2000, more than LL170 billion in financial [debt] has been accumulated by the Health Ministry alone,” the statement said, demanding that the Cabinet quickly issue the treasury bonds set to cover the payments.

The hospitals warned against continuing the “destructive health policy” that affected Lebanese citizens who depend on state aid for their hospitalization, and especially the residents of the north, the south and the Bekaa Valley.

“The dependence rate on public health care among the residents of these areas is more than 95 percent,” the league said, "while no more than 5 percent of Bekaa and Akkar residents benefit from the services of private insurance companies.”

 

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