A senator has asked Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to order a probe into allegations that several hospitals have lodged excessive reimbursement claims with the government for medical expenses after treating COVID-19 sufferers.
Senator Amphon Jindawatthana called on the prime minister to initiate a prompt investigation into the matter.
His call for action came after a Senate meeting yesterday to discuss false reimbursement claims allegedly being made by several hospitals.
Hospitals, both state and privately run, involved in delivering COVID-19 treatment and other services can obtain reimbursements in full for the cost of treatment, rooms, food and the use of medical equipment.
Where applicable, the hospitals can also seek claims from the Social Security Fund and insurance firms.
In some cases, the hospitals can charge additional fees on behalf of the patients.
Dr Jindawatthana said that many hospitals have arranged to admit patients, especially those from green zones with low risk of infections, and offered full access to their medical and related services for 14 days.
After that, a bill is issued containing vague details regarding expenses, which is then used to obtain reimbursement from the government.
The malpractice has cost the state a lot of money which could have otherwise been used for battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
The senator said the hospitals have broken the law and should face the music.
“They are taking advantage of the situation. I appeal to the prime minister, who also heads the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), to take the matter seriously and to promptly seek the prosecution of wrongdoers,” the senator said.
Also, the agencies responsible for dealing with irregularities and abuses of public funds should step in and plug loopholes in state spending to fight COVID-19, Dr Jindawatthana added.
On 1st June, the prime minister assured there was enough government money from sources other than the 2022 budget to fund the Public Health Ministry’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak in lieu of the ministry’s slashed budgets.