Red Cross resumes COVID-19 testing after PhilHealth settles P500-M partial payment

Marje Pelayo   •   October 28, 2020   •   200

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) resumed its coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing services Tuesday evening (October 27) after the embattled Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) settled a partial payment of P500-million for its P1.1-billion debt.

In an online press briefing, PRC Chairman Senator Richard Gordon said he already requested all PRC laboratories, including the one at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), to resume the provision of swab testing services to PhilHealth.

Gordon’s announcement was made hours after the state insurer paid half of its arrears.

“So we are ready to test all the people that we have not tested. Iyong mga nasa hotel ngayon, padala nila, tetestingin namin agad iyan (Those staying in hotels, send them to us and we will test them),” Gordon said.

“We are going to have the testing again tonight at the Manila international airport muna, then tomorrow (Wednesday) regular testing will be conducted in full,” he added.

The Senator stressed, however, that though they did not set any deadline for PhilHealth to settle the remaining balance, they will no longer allow any repeat of the financial issues with the agency.

Thus, he said, they will immediately bill the government for future tests.

In a statement, PhiHealth President and CEO Atty. Dante Gierran assured they will expedite the processing of the remaining balance subject to strict compliance with government accounting rules and regulations.

“PhilHealth takes exception to the insinuation that it is reckless and is playing on people’s lives,” he said.

“Its prudence in taking charge of its members’ hard-earned contributions is central to the state health insurer. Its exercise of judiciousness is to protect the people and their funds,” he added.

PhilHealth maintained that it recognizes and assures the accredited laboratories conducting the current OFW RT-PCR tests that it will fast track the processing of its payments upon submission of complete documentary requirements.

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.

Some evacuees to undergo COVID-19 antigen testing – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   November 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Testing for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is being rolled out in evacuation centers where thousands of residents are staying after they fled their homes during the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses, last week, Malacañang said Tuesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the government will use antigen tests which analyze nasal and oral specimen and can yield results in minutes.

Roque issued the statement in response to the appeal of the OCTA Research Team to local government units to ensure enough and accessible testing, effective contact tracing and the establishment of isolation facilities for evacuees to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.

“Bago pa po imungkahi yan ng OCTA research group. Inaassure ko po kayo na in-place na po yung polisiya ng gobyerno na magbigay po ng COVID testing sa mga evacuation centers. Ngayon po, ang gagamitin nga po natin, mas marami at mas mabilis ay ang antigen testing sa lahat ng ating evacuation centers,” he said.

The Department of Health (DOH) earlier warned of a strong possibility of COVID-19 transmission in evacuation centers if minimum health protocols are not strictly observed.

Persons who are at risk of developing severe COVID-19, including the elderly, pregnant women, and those with underlying health problems should be placed in separate quarters, the DOH added.

Roque, however, said that not all evacuees will be subjected to COVID-19 testing as those showing symptoms of the viral respiratory disease will be prioritized. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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.

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