Drilon opposes Philhealth bid to delay implementation of Universal Health Care Law

Robie de Guzman   •   June 18, 2020   •   372

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon has opposed the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation’s (Philhealth) appeal to postpone the full implementation of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Law even amid the slump in collections this year due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Drilon said the UHC law is “critical” in the fight against COVID-19, and delaying its implementation is wrong.

“To halt the implementation of a law that would promote access to affordable care, strengthen our primary health care and make our people healthy to fight the virus is a step in the wrong direction,” he said.

“If COVID-19 taught us one thing, it is that we need to keep people healthy and we have to prepare for the next pandemic. UHC is the key,” he added.

While Drilon recognized the need to address Philihealth’s precarious position for it to be able to sustain its funding, he said it should not be at the expense of the people who are relying on the UHC for their health needs.

He added that the COVID-19 pandemic reveals the weaknesses and inequity in the current healthcare system, which the law seeks to address.

The Senate Minority Leader also expressed his concern that postponing the full implementation of the UHC could “discourage poor people from seeking hospital treatments or primary health care even if they experience COVID-19 symptoms.”

Drilon said the implementation of UHC is sourced from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, premium contribution of members, annual appropriation of DOH under the General Appropriations Act, and National Government subsidy to Philhealth.

Drilon said he has already called on the Department of Budget and Management to increase funding for the health sector in the National Expenditure Program for 2021.

“If we learned anything about the onset of the pandemic, it is that the health sector must get a big part of the budgetary pie,” he said.

The health of the people is the State’s responsibility,” he added.

PhilHealth urged to fast track issuance of circular on extension of hemodialysis treatment

Marje Pelayo   •   November 18, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – An advocacy group is calling on the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to expedite the release of a memorandum circular regarding the extension of coverage for hemodialysis patients from 90 to 144 sessions.

“Ang problema kasi dito ngayon kaya namin hinihiling ito kasi walang pera ang mga tao ngayon na ipapaluwal doon sa treatment. Ang nangyayari hindi sila talaga nakakasalang [We are asking for this now because the problem is many patients have no money to support their treatment. The tendency is to skip the treatment],” Dialysis.PH president Raynaldo Abacan Jr. said.

Just recently, PhilHealth President and CEO Atty. Dante Guerran announced the supposedly good news which is part of the provision of the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2 law.

It gives patients the privilege for their much needed hemodialysis until December 31 of this year.

But according to Dialysis.PH, many dialysis centers do not honor Atty. Gerran’s pronouncement and demand a formal circular.

Magandang balita. Maraming nag-comply pero ang nakakalungkot meron pa ring mga centers na hindi nag-comply [That’s good news. Many have complied but the sad thing is many centers still did not],” Abacan said.

In his announcement, Gierran said he ordered all PhilHealth regional offices and other health facilities to accept dialysis patients even if they have finished the initial 90 sessions. 

He added that patients may reimburse from PhilHealth any amount that they paid outside of the 90 days free sessions.

The agency said it is now drafting the memorandum circular for that matter.

PhilHealth to cover hemodialysis up to 144 sessions until Dec. 31

Marje Pelayo   •   November 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) has decided to continue the coverage for hemodialysis patients to 144 sessions until the end of the year.

“The PhilHealth Board approved on November 11 continuing coverage of hemodialysis sessions beyond 90-session limit to maximum 144 sessions which can be availed of until December 31, 2020,” the state insurer said Monday (November 16).

The agency said it will immediately issue guidelines through a Circular that will direct all regional offices and concerned healthcare facilities to continue honoring availments beyond the 90-session limit as duly prescribed by a licensed physician.

Meanwhile, hemodialysis patients who paid for their sessions can file their claims at the nearest PhilHealth office.

The agency has not detailed when the circular for guidelines would be released.

Gierran assures suspension of execs won’t affect PhilHealth functions

Robie de Guzman   •   October 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) president and CEO Dante Gierran on Thursday said the agency will continue rendering its services and functions despite the suspension of eight of its executives.

“PhilHealth assures its members and stakeholders that its mandate and services shall continuously proceed unhampered notwithstanding the challenges that it is currently facing as part of the necessary reforms needed to be undertaken to further improve its services toward the implementation of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) for all Filipinos,” Gierran said in a statement.

Gierran issued the statement after the Office of the Ombudsman ordered the suspension of eight PhilHealth officials over the alleged anomalous release of funds under the Interim Reimbursement Mechanism Policy.

Among those ordered suspended by the Ombudsman are Chief Operating Officer Arnel de Jesus, Executive Vice President Renato Limsiaco, Senior Vice President Dr. Israel Pargas, Area Vice President Gregorio Rulloda, Benefits Administration Section Head Dr. Imelda Trinidad De Vera-Pe, Manager Lolita Tuliao, Fiscal Examiner Gemma Sibucao, and Fiscal Controller Lailani Padua.

The Ombudsman said the suspension order is in relation to the investigation being done on administrative cases of grave misconduct, serious dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

“PhilHealth Management acknowledges the recent Order of the Office of the Ombudsman putting several of its Executive Officers and Personnel under preventive suspension for grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service. We shall abide and implement the suspension Orders accordingly,” Gierran said.

“PhilHealth Management maintains the constitutional rights of its Officers and Personnel on its presumption of innocence until proven otherwise,” he added.

“We trust that the Honorable Office of the Ombudsman will accordingly observe objectivity, justice, and fairness, and allow our concerned Officers and personnel the due process to properly explain and defend themselves,” Gierran further stated.

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