Grace Poe

PhilHealth asked to speed up payment of unpaid hospital claims

November 2, 2021 Marlon Purification 159 views

THREE senators yesterday urged PhilHealth to pick up the slack in settling its mounting obligations to hospitals that compromise our healthcare system.

Poe said it is unjust for our frontline institutions to continue waiting for years seemingly with no end in sight on when they can be reimbursed.

“We expect the state health insurer to come up with an aggressive catch-up plan for due reimbursement of claims,” Poe said.

She added that the delay in payment could force hospitals to downsize or worse, halt operations, to the detriment of their workers who will lose jobs, and our people who cannot anymore take a heavy beating from the pandemic.

“As this unfortunate situation persists, our health system becomes more vulnerable to being overwhelmed, especially in a pandemic.

“Being the country’s only health insurer, PhilHealth should remember its commitment to the Filipino people not to leave anyone, especially the poor, untreated,” Poe said.

For his part, Senator Sonny Angara said the Philhealth must do implement reforms to hasten the process of reimbursement to private hospitals.

“Matagal ng ni rereklamo ng mga ospital itong mabagal na pag reimburse ng mga gastos ng mga ospital at pasyente; kailangan bilisan ng Philhealth ang pag proseso ng claims ng mga ospital otherwise magkakaroon tayo ng systems failure dito sa healthcare system natin; pag di na babayaran ang health services maaaring may nagsara na ospital at mapeperwisyo ang publiko at ang nangangailangan ng serbisyong pangkalusugan.

“Taun taon nagbabayad ang milyon milyong Pilipino ng automatic deductions mula sa sweldo nila, maliit o malaki man ang sahod; in addition, may P70B na dagdag subsidiya ang national government sa pondo ng Philhealth itong nakaraang taon,” Angara said.

Meanwhile, Senator Joel Villanueva said thr PhilHealth’s delays in reimbursing private hospitals for treating members of the state health insurer will make it harder for hospitals to retain critical manpower.

“This is also a jobs issue. When reimbursement is slow the flight of talent accelerates,“ said Villanueva, chair of the Senate Labor Committee.

PhilHealth, he added, should be the reason for retaining private hospitals’ staff, not the cause of their departure, “especially at a time when the pull of foreign recruiters is strong.”

When private hospitals suffer from workforce reduction, it is the public that suffers, Villanueva said.

“You can have hospital beds but without medical staff, those beds are reduced to pieces of furniture,” he said.

“During an epidemic, when the call is ‘all hands on deck,’ the role of a state corporation is to ensure that frontline units operate at optimum capacity. Parang logistical provider so that frontliners can operate at full capacity.

“PhilHealth reimbursement is a critical part of the supply chain. Yan ang dapat maintindihan ng gobyerno,” Villanueva added.

An official of the 700-member Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines, Inc. (PHAPi) on Monday complained that as of August, PhilHealth owed them P20 billion in unpaid claims.

Villanueva said PhilHealth should aim for a “zero backlog goal” in settling reimbursement claims by the end of the year.

By failing to solve the long festering problem of slow reimbursement, PhilHealth is unwittingly aiding headhunters in recruiting nurses to work abroad, Villanueva said.