Solon seeks to institutionalize gov’t aid in private hospitals

September 18, 2022 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 554 views

A LADY lawmaker has disclosed that she is currently working on a bill that would institutionalize the use of guarantee letters by indigent patients in private hospitals.

House Deputy Minority Leader Bernadette Herrera made the disclosure during her interpellation at the recent House hearing on the proposed budget of the Department of Health (DOH) for 2023.

It will be recalled that former Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, upon Herrera’s prodding, issued a memorandum order allowing indigent patients to present guarantee letters to private hospitals that have existing memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the DOH and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

A guarantee letter is an assurance of payment offered by DOH, DSWD and other concerned government agencies and institutions including Congress, on behalf of a patient, for the portion of the hospital bill.

Herrera said an administrative order is not enough that’s why she would push for the passage of a law institutionalizing government medical assistance in private hospitals.

During the budget hearing, DOH Undersecretary Charade Mercado-Grande said the agency was proposing a special provision in the 2023 national budget to “somehow ease the burden” in coming up with MOA with private hospitals.

To which, Herrera said: “Certainly, I’m interested in that special provision because I’m also crafting a bill to institutionalize that para hindi na tayo isa-isang nagmo-MOA pa.”

Herrera lamented that legislators, particularly those in the National Capital Region (NCR), are having a hard time entering into MOA with private hospitals because of their experience with the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. or PhilHealth.

“Nagkakaproblema po kami rito sa NCR na mag-MOA with private hospitals kasi maraming utang ang PhilHealth. So, ayaw nila mag-MOA for fear na hindi sila mababayaran,” Herrera pointed out.

Herrera had earlier said the COVID-19 experience has made it more imperative for government to expand its medical assistance program to include indigent patients confined in private hospitals not by their own choosing.

“Nitong pandemic nakita natin na napupuno ang public hospitals, walang choice ‘yong ating constituents but to go to the private hospitals,” Herrera said.

Herrera said there has to be a strong partnership between the government and private hospitals to help not only indigent patients but also private hospitals by paying them on time.

“The government must also pay on time dahil kawawa rin ang mga pribadong ospital. So, it has to be legislated,” Herrera stressed.