TOKUSHIMA – The former director of a hospital here and two others were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of fraudulently obtaining 1 million yen in medical fees by falsely claiming to have treated patients, police said.
The suspects were identified as Katsuhiko Saito, 62, former director of Tokushima Rehabilitation Hospital, his 53-year-old wife, Yoko, who was head of the facility’s secretariat, and Etsuko Kishino, 35, a former head of the hospital’s accounting section.
In early December 2000, the three used the health insurance cards of 72 people who were members of an adjacent sports facility without their consent to write false receipts to make it appear they had received medical treatment at the hospital, according to police.
They submitted the necessary documents to the entities tasked with paying out the medical fees, defrauding them of roughly 1 million yen, according to police. The money was allegedly remitted in January 2001 to a bank account controlled by the suspects.
Although the Saitos deny carrying out the scam, Kishino has for the most part owned up to the wrongdoing, police said.
Investigators said they suspect it was not the only time the three had illegally received such fees, and they plan to continue their probe.
The case came to to light in March 2001, when some insurance card holders notified the Tokushima Social Insurance Bureau that they received medical expense statements even though they had not gone to the hospital.
After an internal inspection, the bureau filed a criminal complaint with police last June against the hospital and its director on suspicion of fraud. Police searched the hospital and the Saitos’ home the following month.
The hospital was established in 1998 with the main aim of providing rehabilitation services.
However, Its designation as a medical facility where medical insurance is accepted, as well as Saito’s registration as a public health doctor, were nullified for five years beginning last July 1. The hospital was closed and its property was sold to a prep school in October.
The social insurance bureau called on Saito to return the money voluntarily, but he has not responded so far, sources said.
In June, Saito told Kyodo News he did not believe his actions constituted fraud, explaining that the sports facility always has a doctor standing by in case of an emergency, and that watching over patients can be interpreted as a form of treatment.
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