Thu, Jul 15, 2010 - Page 2 News List

Minister threatens to downgrade hospital

BY SHELLEY HUANG  /  STAFF REPORTER

Following a recent case in which Chang Gung Memorial Hospital overcharged its medical staff for health insurance, Department of Health (DOH) Minister Yaung Chih-liang (楊志良) yesterday told a press conference that the hospital could be downgraded from medical center to local hospital status if it does not admit to reporting false financial information.

The hospital’s Linkou Branch was last month reported to authorities for overcharging its physicians for National Health Insurance (NHI) premiums.

The hospital argued this was justified because the doctors were in partnership with the hospital owners and therefore responsible for the full premium amount.

Chang Gung was recently reported for overcharging physicians for national labor insurance fees.

“If Chang Gung insists that it is in a partnership with its physicians, then it lied to the DOH during the evaluation of medical institutions when it said that it is in an employment relationship with its physicians, which means that its status as a medical center should be revoked,” Yaung said.

Yaung said Chang Gung has unreasonably profited by providing two different versions of its financial information — to the National Tax Administration (NTA), where Chang Gung saved on tax costs by saying its physicians were partners, and to the DOH, where it tried to maintain its status as a medical center by saying its physicians were hospital employees.

Bureau of Medical Affairs Director Shih Chung-liang (石崇良) said that if Chang Gung did not change its position that it is in a partnership with its physicians within two weeks, it would be downgraded two levels to local hospital status.

If Chang Gung became a local hospital, regular patients would not be adversely affected, as local hospitals generally receive less compensation from the NHI system than a medical center, and patients would be charged a smaller percentage of their medical fees, Shih said.

For Chang Gung, it is a lose-lose situation because by admitting wrongdoing to the DOH it would be fined for overcharging its doctors, but by admitting tax evasion to the NTA it would have to pay back unpaid taxes.

Chang Gung has said it would explain its case to the authorities and declined to make further comment.

The hospital’s Linkou Branch was fined more than NT$100 million (US$3 million) for overcharging doctors on their NHI premiums.

The DOH found that Chang Gung charged each doctor the full insurance premium of about NT$6,000 per month, rather than just 30 percent of the full amount, about NT$1,800, that a doctor would normally pay as a hospital employee.

DOH officials said that according to the National Health Insurance Act (全民健康保險法), aside from returning the over-charged amount to its doctors, the hospital would face a fine of two times the total amount overcharged.

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