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PUBLIC HEALTH

Hospital owners say NSSF has stopped paying for care; Abiad says government is saving up for cancer drugs

Hospital owners say NSSF has stopped paying for care; Abiad says government is saving up for cancer drugs

The head of the private hospital owners’ syndicate Suleiman Haroun said that due to lack of payments from the NSSF, cancer and dialysis patients will soon have to pay for their care. (Credit: AFP)

BEIRUT – As of April, medical cases requiring critical care will be covered by the National Social Security Fund, while dialysis and cancer patients will pay the full cost of their treatment, warned head of the private hospital owners’ syndicate Suleiman Haroun on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Health Minister Firass Abiad said the government is saving money by purchasing and subsidizing lower-cost drugs in order to save up for cancer drugs.

Here’s what we know:

    • Haroun announced these changes to hospital policy after he said the NSSF stopped paying the monthly advances required to meet the service costs of hospitals incurred when caring for people guaranteed by the fund.

    • He urged the board of directors of the fund to expedite the approval of the payment of advances to hospitals, warning them that “otherwise the hospitals will find themselves obliged to, first receive critical cases only at the expense of the fund starting next week.” As for dialysis and cancer patients, “whom hospitals do not charge any additional expense, will be asked to pay the whole bill”

    • Haroun added that these measures will start as of April 1, noting that patients will get their money back should the NSSF transfers payments to hospitals.

    • Haroun explained that for the last 11 years, the NSSF has approved advances to hospitals annually via the approval of a request from the director general of the fund its board of directors. The request for 2022 was made, he said, but so far the board has not approved it, and hospitals did not receive payment for January and February of 2022. “The 26-member board of directors met with only 16 of its members in a session, due to either the death or absence of other members,” he said.

    • Health Minister Firass Abiad confirmed on Tuesday that during the past few months, Lebanon has been importing medicines on a regular basis, adding “on Monday we will issue a statement on medicines that will arrive in the coming weeks.”

    • He pointed out that "there has always been coordination to control smuggling,” and highlighted the importance of having a tracking system for medicine buyers. “We started experimenting with the tracking system with six hospitals,” he explained, adding “we have done serious work on subsidizing [drugs], and among the drugs we subsidize are ones that achieve the same result, but are at cheaper costs.”

    • “We are saving money to buy more cancer drugs.” He pointed out that “if we want to cover all needs, external funding must be increased,” Abiad said, explaining that “if funding is secured through the NSSF, it can pay more to the patient … the solution is to release the NSSF funds.”


BEIRUT – As of April, medical cases requiring critical care will be covered by the National Social Security Fund, while dialysis and cancer patients will pay the full cost of their treatment, warned head of the private hospital owners’ syndicate Suleiman Haroun on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Health Minister Firass Abiad said the government is saving money by purchasing and subsidizing lower-cost...