PhilHealth still finalizing vaccine indemnity guidelines; solon says ‘not acceptable’
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) is still finalizing the guidelines for the COVID-19 indemnification fund nearly two months since the government started vaccinating Filipinos, which a lawmaker said was unacceptable.
“The PhilHealth is currently finalizing the specific guidelines for approval of the board and then eventually the management so that we could release it already for the information of our citizens,” Dr. Mary Antonette Remonte, acting senior manager of Benefits Development and Research Department of PhilHealth, told lawmakers in a House briefing Wednesday.
An indemnity fund was established under the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021, enacted into law in late February, to compensate any person inoculated through the government’s inoculation drive in case of death, permanent disability, or hospital confinement for any “serious adverse event.” PhilHealth was tasked to manage the said fund.
Remonte underscored the need to conduct consultations with their legal department as well as the Department of Health (DOH) since the COVID-19 indemnification fund is a new mandate for PhilHealth.
“We have to study the law, we have to consider yung mga (the) admin concerns at (and) requirements. This indemnification fund is a new, additional mandate of PhilHeath, we have no experience yet how to administer this,” she explained.
“So we have to study and consult also yung legal as well as the DOH, who is our partner dun sa mga (with the) verification and assessment at kung sino yung (of who are) eligible for indemnification,” she added.
But Gabriela Partylist Rep. Arlene Brosas said guidelines should have been released already, considering that the government has started its vaccination program, which has so far accomplished the first-dose inoculation of over 1.3 million Filipinos.
Over 200,00 people have already received their second dose.
The lawmaker said it is important for the public to be informed of what to do should they experience adverse effects following their inoculation.
“Bakit naman ganon? Nauna na yung pag-rollout ng vaccine pero yung guidelines para sa ating indemnification fund ay hindi pa lumalabas and finalizing pa lang. Delikado po ito sa mga mamamayan natin na nagkaroon man ng adverse effect sakanila, paano nila ito maa-avail, at pano natin ito mabibigay sa kanila,” Brosas lamented.
(Why is this the case? The rollout of the vaccines already began but the guidelines for the indemnification fund has yet to be released and is currently still being finalized. This is dangerous for the vaccinated Filipinos who experience adverse side effects, how can they avail of this indemnity, how can they get this.)
“Hindi maintindihan kung ano ba yung mga admin concerns na sinasabi at kung anu-ano…Habang nagro-rollout tayo ng vaccine e wala po tayong guidelines diyan, hindi ko yung matanggap,” Brosas said.
(I can’t understand the reasons being given, like admin concerns and other reasons…While we are rolling out the vaccine, we have no indemnification guidelines yet, I can’t accept this.)
She urged PhilHealth to fast-track the release of the guidelines to avoid being remiss in their duty to inform the public regarding the indemnification fund.
Remonte said they are set to present the guidelines to the PhilHealth board for approval on Thursday.
“We also have to present this also and consult the agencies and offices mentioned by the law, and then we can already release the guidelines,” she added.
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