Wed, Feb 25, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Foundation calls for strict watch over medical funds

RESPONSIBILITY Activists said that the law requires medical foundations to allocate part of their income to medical aid, but little of the money is put to good use

By Shelley Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Instead of asking the public to pay more for National Health Insurance, the government should consider the NT$2 billion (US$59 million) in medical relief funds from private, corporate-funded medical institutions that are lying idle, the Taiwan Health Care Reform Foundation said yesterday.

The group criticized the Department of Health for allowing hospitals to delay publicizing their financial reports on the department Web site as required by law, resulting in a large amount of funds and resources lying idle when they could be used to help the disadvantaged.

Foundation chairwoman Chang Ly-yun (張笠雲) cited Article 46 of the Medical Care Act (醫療法), which states: “Medical foundations shall allocate at least 10 percent of their annual medical income to conduct medical relief, community medical care services and other community services.”

She said that more than a dozen major medical institutions in Taiwan had made the allocations, but had not used the funds.

“For example, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital has allocated about NT$1.5 billion for its medical relief fund. According to the Medical Care Act, the money should have gone into providing medical care and services for communities. However, in their financial reports, they said that because [the money] accumulated too fast and there were no foreseeable major expenditures in the future, they labeled the money as 'other income,'” she said.

More than a dozen hospitals had unused funds totaling NT$2 billion, which could have been used to provide medical care to 2 million people, she said.

“Hospitals are making money, but are not giving back to the community. It makes people very angry,” she said.

In response, Shih Chung-liang (石崇良), director-general of the Bureau of Medical Affairs, said that of the 49 corporate-funded hospitals, 42 had already posted their financial reports on the Web, and seven more will be publicizing their reports in the near future.

“We will ask hospitals that haven't used up [the allotment] to draw up a plan and tell us how they intend to spend the money ... We will then evaluate whether they have put the money to good use,” he said.

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