Pacquiao seeks 1-year freeze on Philhealth premium rate hike for health workers

Robie de Guzman   •   May 29, 2020   •   982

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Manny Pacquiao on Friday said he has filed a resolution calling for a one-year suspension of the increase in Philippine Health Insurance (PhilHealth) premium contributions for healthcare workers amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.

In Senate Resolution 429, Pacquiao urged the Senate to call for the suspension of the increase in Philhealth premium rate for healthcare professionals for the year 2020 “as a token of gratitude” to their sacrifices amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The senator filed the resolution as Philhealth is poised to implement an increase in premium payments from 2.75% to 3% of its members’ monthly salary.

The increase is provided in the Universal Health Care Act, which provides for the automatic enrolment of all Filipino citizens in the government’s National Health Insurance Program. The law also mandates an annual increase in premium rate until it reaches 5% by 2024.

“The first year of the implementation of the increased rate of premium contributions, coincided with the advent and continuation of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines,” the resolution read.

“This has constrained most, if not all, health care professionals and other health care workers in the country sacrificing and risking their well-being and even their lives, to help cure the afflicted and stem the surge of transmission of the disease caused by the Covid-19 virus,” it added.

Pacquiao also pointed out that the pandemic has resulted in the “disruption of the professional practice of the health care professionals concomitantly leading to the marked decrease in the income of health care professionals and related health care workers, and to some, even to the closure of their clinics.”

“Such a suspension may help these frontliners in a small way, but the recognition and expression of gratitude will go a little farther to support them moving forward,” he said.

The Philippine Medical Association (PMA) earlier called on the government to suspend the premium payment increase for medical workers amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Indemnification package for severe COVID-19 side effects to be released this month — PhilHealth

Robie de Guzman   •   May 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), on Friday, announced that the indemnification package for individuals who will experience adverse effects following COVID-19 vaccination will be released soon.

During the Laging Handa briefing, PhilHealth Vice President for Corporate Affairs Shirley Domingo said the indemnification package may be released within this month after the PhilHealth Board approved its guidelines.

She, however, said that the funding requirement for this package is still being finalized.

“Iyong inaayos lang po natin ay iyong funding po nito. Kasi under the law, we are supposed to be provided with 500 million pesos, iyong trust specifically for this purpose,” she said.

Republic Act 11525 or the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021 provided P500 million for the COVID-19 National Vaccine Immunity Fund.

The law, which was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on February 26, states that the benefits package will cover individuals who experienced serious adverse events following immunization that required hospitalization, and in case of permanent disability or death.

“Ito po iyong kung naturukan sila, na-vaccinate sila for COVID at nagkaroon sila ng serious adverse event ‘no, ibig sabihin may matinding side effect, serious adverse events, or kung ma-hospitalize sila or huwag naman sana pero kung may nabawian ng buhay dahil diyan, lahat po ito ay pasok doon sa benefit na iyon,” Domingo said.

The Philippines has so far administered over 2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses since the government rolled out its mass immunization in March.

Of this figure, a total of 1,744,649 people have already received their allocated first dose, while 320,586 have been given their second dose.

Manny Pacquiao asks US Pres. Biden to expedite delivery of vaccines for COVID-19

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Manny Pacquiao said he is trying to personally contact United States President Joe Biden to expedite the delivery of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines.

Last April, the Senator has sent a letter to the White House through Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Romualdez to ask the US President’s help in expediting the processing of around 20 million doses of Moderna vaccines procured by the Philippine government and private sectors.

Sumulat ako dahil medyo nababagalan ako [sa] pag-deliver ng vaccine dito satin. Ang ibang bansa, massive na ang vaccination nila (I wrote because I feel that the delivery of vaccines here in the country is slow. The other countries are already conducting massive vaccination),” he said.

Pacquiao said he is not overstepping President Rodrigo Duterte and stressed that he just wanted to help.

Ang presidente ngayon ng US na-meet ko na siya noong 2011, sa tingin ko naman kilala niya ako. So makakatulong ng malaki ang sulat natin, ang request natin sa kaniya na mapagbigyan tayo (I have already met the current US President back in 2011, I think he knows me. So our letter will be a big help that he will grant our request),” he said.

The White House has still yet to reply to the Senator’s letter, but it has been received by the office of President Biden.

Meanwhile, Vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez Jr. previously said there will be a steady vaccine supply in the country in June, including the 194,000doses of Moderna vaccines. AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

PhilHealth’s debit-credit payment method now applies to all COVID-19 high, critical risk areas – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   April 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The government’s task force for COVID-19 response has approved the application of Philippine Health Insurance Corp.’s (PhilHealth) debit-credit payment method (DCPM) in areas with high-risk and critical COVID-19 situation nationwide, Malacañang said Friday.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) approved the policy on Thursday, April 22.

Roque said the move was made as high-risk and critical risk areas will also be prioritized in the COVID-19 vaccine allocation, human health resource deployment, and other relevant COVID-19 response measures, as applicable.

Prior to the IATF’s order, PhilHealth, under its Circular 2021-0004, provides for the use of payment method to facilitate the settlement of accounts payable to healthcare facilities during the State of Public Health Emergency brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

PhilHealth initially applied DCPM only to areas identified by the IATF, particularly in the National Capital Region, Batangas, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Pampanga, and Rizal.

Roque said the IATF likewise directed the National Task Force (NTF) Task Group Treat, through the One COVID Referral System, to utilize the Feasibility Analysis of Syndromic Surveillance Using Spatio-Temporal Epidemiological Modeler for Early Detection of Diseases (FASSSTER) projections on target beds and human resources for health.

“These projections shall identify health capacity needs required to lower health care and intensive care unit (ICU) utilization rates,” he said.

“The NTF shall also review and implement the recommended Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat- Reintegrate strategies to reduce the health utilization rates and augment the needs of human resources for health,” he added.

Roque said that the task group will also identify target additional beds on a weekly basis that will substantially reduce health care and ICU utilization rates, determine and list specific health facilities and infrastructure to contribute these additional beds, and operationalize how these beds become functional with adequate human resources for health and equipment.

The Palace official earlier said that the government is eyeing to add 200 more ICU beds for COVID-19 patients.

“The NTF shall further engage the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority to develop training and instructional materials of available COVID-19 response frameworks to enhance the enforcement of COVID-19 strategies at the barangay level,” Roque said.

The said materials shall be cascaded to the barangay, purok, sitio, and zone levels through the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the regional counterparts of the NTF for immediate and intensified implementation through barangay empowerment, he added.

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