AMMAN — The Ministry of Health and the University of Jordan (UJ) Hospital have yet to resolve a dispute over the ministry’s outstanding debts to the hospital and the auditing of its bills.
Mujalli Mhailan, president of the UJ Hospital, said the ministry’s outstanding debt to the hospital from 2011 stands at JD23 million, of which JD1.9 million is to be paid from public expenditures and the remainder from the National Health Insurance Fund.
He said the ministry has agreed to pay the JD1.9 million, but refuses to pay the remaining debt without a random audit of the bills.
“If they want to audit the bills, they should audit all files,” Mhailan told The Jordan Times, arguing that a random audit will not lead to accurate figures and is “against the Audit Bureau’s policy”.
However, Minister of Health Abdul Latif Wreikat said that conducting a comprehensive audit would be prohibitive, requiring more than 200 employees working full time.
He said the two parties had agreed to re-audit the bills every three months by taking a random sampling, and that this level of scrutiny would be sufficient to clear the outstanding bills for payment.
“We will pay the JD1.9 million, but the remaining amount will not be paid before having a random audit as stipulated in the agreement,” the minister told reporters yesterday.
Responding to this, Mhailan said: “Postponing the payments will put us in a difficult situation as we need to pay the drug companies that have stopped supplying us with medicine and equipment until we settle our outstanding debt," which he put at JD20 million.
According to the agreement signed between the ministry and the UJ Hospital in 2008, within two months after a beneficiary is discharged the hospital is required to send bills for his or her treatment to the auditor, who in turn must send them to the health insurance directorate within one month.
The directorate must then arrange to pay the bills within three months of receiving them.
The document, a copy of which was made available to The Jordan Times, makes no mention of random audits. Wreikat was not available to clarify his earlier remarks regarding an agreement to that effect.
In a letter from Audit Bureau President Mustafa Barari to Wreikat dated October 13, 2011, a copy of which was sent to The Jordan Times, he explained that random auditing would result in financial losses for which a responsible party could not be readily identified.
In the same letter, Barari said a committee formed upon the minister’s request to audit all bills since January 1, 2011, had not yet begun to do so, and requested that the panel begin working on a comprehensive audit.
Every year, the ministry pays an average of JD256 million to private, university and military hospitals for patient referrals.
“If patients cannot be treated in one of the ministry’s hospitals, or if beds are unavailable, they are referred to another facility affiliated with our partners,” Wreikat said in a previous statement.
However, to eliminate this financial burden, a plan is under way to develop the ministry’s facilities and provide them with doctors in underserved specialisations, the minister noted.
Recently, occupancy in public hospitals has increased from 60 per cent to 90 per cent, according to Wreikat.