Clinics face action over health scam

Clinics face action over health scam

The Public Health Ministry has vowed to take criminal action and sue at least 18 clinics which allegedly swindled funds from the gold card universal health insurance scheme.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said yesterday that clinics in Bangkok had engaged in graft as ruled by a probe set up by the National Health Security Office (NHSO) which runs the gold card scheme.

The 18 community clinics called Chum Chon Ob Oon (community warmth) are operated by the NHSO. The clinics offer free checkups for people in several communities with the cost covered by the NHSO.

The clinics were accused of inventing the names of people who received checkups and using fake names to obtain reimbursements from the NHSO for a total value of 72 million baht, according to Pradermchai Boonchuaylue, the Pheu Thai Party MP for Bangkok.

Since the investigation confirmed the malpractice, around 60 million baht has been recovered.

Mr Anutin said future disbursement of the fund will need to be more strict as 63 other clinics are also facing a similar probe.

Anyone connected to the malpractice will be prosecuted for criminal offences and sued for damages. If the wrongdoers are doctors or nurses, they will face disciplinary action while the clinics will be closed and have their licences revoked, the minister said.

Mr Anutin added he has criticised NHSO executives for not reporting the graft sooner as the issue was only brought to public attention late last month.

NHSO secretary-general Sakchai Kanchanawatthana said the graft was detected after the investigation panel sifted through records of the budget spending by the clinics from Oct 1, 2018, to Sept 30 last year.

Dr Sakchai gave his assurance the eight-member investigation team had acted independently and with transparency.

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