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Go to summon PhilHealth, hospital execs

By: - Reporter / @MRamosINQ
/ 05:38 AM October 24, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — Don’t let the patients suffer.

Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go on Wednesday stepped into the squabble between Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) and a group of private hospitals, which threatened to cut off their accreditation from the state health insurer for its supposed failure to settle its financial obligations to them.

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Go, chair of the Senate health committee, said he would summon officials of PhilHealth and the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines (PHAP) after the group complained that many of its members had not been paid by the government for medical services they had rendered to PhilHealth beneficiaries.

He said he had spoken to PhilHealth president Ricardo Morales, who supposedly told him that the possibility of private hospitals withdrawing their accreditation was “not true.”

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“I already called Morales and he assured me that he would immediately act on the [financial] claims of the hospitals,” Go said in an interview with reporters.

Acting as bridge

“As chairman of the Senate committee on health, which has oversight functions over PhilHealth, I would summon them to address this (issue),” he said. “I’m willing to be the bridge for them.”

“I will again speak with Morales and if there’s a need to call (PhilHealth and PHAP officials) to appear in the Senate, I will do it so that we can hear [the concerns of] both sides,” the senator added.

Go said he arranged a meeting last month between Morales and PHAP president Rustico Jimenez, who had brought to his attention the complaints of owners of private hospitals

“Let’s help each other. Our patients cannot wait [before they can be treated]. I’m personally appealing to PhilHealth officials and the private hospitals [to prioritize] the delivery of medical services to the patients,” the senator said.

PHAP open letter

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On Monday, the PHAP published an open letter dated Oct. 15 warning that its members were planning to drop their PhilHealth accreditation due to the unpaid obligations of the state health insurance firm.

The group claimed some private hospitals in Mindanao had already lost their accreditation because of various complaints against them.

Go joined Health Secretary Francisco Duque III in urging the PHAP not to arbitrarily pull out from PhilHealth, saying indigent patients would be adversely affected.

Universal health care

Duque likewise feared that the implementation of the Universal Health Care Act would be derailed if private hospitals would discontinue their PhilHealth accreditation.

Said Go: “What’s important is that there should be no fraudulent or ‘ghost’ claims because we do not want public money being wasted.”

“I will request Morales to speed up the release of payments to private hospitals because I understand that they also need funds to sustain their operations,” he added.

Fictitious treatments

PhilHealth has been under the microscope after two former employees of a private dialysis centers disclosed the racket of corrupt PhilHealth personnel behind the processing of payments for “ghost” or fictitious dialysis treatments.

The Inquirer also ran a series of special reports on other irregularities involving officials of the state health insurer, such as the issuance of fake receipts to overseas Filipino workers.

According to Go, he was already wrapping up the committee report on the budget proposal of the Department of Health for 2020, which was lower by P10.6 billion than its allocation for this year.

“We’re reviewing the priority items and the underspending in some offices, and which items should get the allotments so that the delivery of medical services would not be hampered,” he said.

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TAGS: Bong Go, Christopher Go, PHAP, Philhealth, private hospitals association of the Philippines, Ricardo Morales
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