BEIRUT: The Finance Ministry will transfer funds Tuesday to the Health Ministry so it can cover hospital treatment expenses for Lebanese, a source at the Finance Ministry told The Daily Star.
The move would spare the country from a health crisis after Health Minister Ali Hasan Khalil said Monday the ministry would no longer cover hospital treatment fees starting Wednesday.
Khalil said in an administrative circular that his decision came after the Finance Ministry failed to issue a decree that would allocate funds to the ministry to cover hospital expenses in public and private hospitals.
The source said Monday that Finance Minister Mohammad Safadi decided that his ministry would pay the LL100 billion needed to sign contracts with hospitals so they can admit patients at the expense of the Health Ministry. The source added that Safadi decided to pay the funds in a lump sum, even though his ministry does not have the right to do so.
“He decided to fix the matter later with the government ... He does not want patients to be turned away from hospitals because of this issue,” the source said.
Safadi’s decision, the source continued, came before Khalil’s administrative circular, but the health minister did not know about it.
Health care in Lebanon is among the most expensive in the region, and many Lebanese rely on the Health Ministry’s assistance, because not every citizen can qualify for the National Social Security Fund or afford to have private health insurance.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 19, 2013, on page 2.