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Duterte orders PhilHealth to fast-track payments to hospitals in Covid hot spots

A patient of the Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center in Marikina City passes in front of the hospital lobby turned into an emergency room. The Philippine College of Physicians is now calling for the conversion of hotels into isolation units for patients as rising cases of Covid-19 continue to overwhelm hospitals in Metro Manila.

PRESIDENT Duterte on Thursday ordered the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to fast-track its payment to hospitals in areas under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ). 

He made the pronouncement after the Private Hospital Association of the Philippines Inc. (PHAPI) lamented that the payments delays from PhilHealth are limiting the capacity of its member private hospitals to accommodate more Covid-19 patients.

In response to Duterte’s order, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said PhilHealth committed to implement a “Debit-Credit Payment Method (DCPM)” for Health Care Facilities (HCFs) during the state of public health emergency.

He said PhilHealth has allocated P9.7 billion for DCPM.  

“Through this measure, we are confident there would be continuous delivery of healthcare services, especially in identified areas of concern, amid the rising number of coronavirus active cases,” Roque said in a statement. 

Roque said the new measure will apply in areas identified by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) and the National Task Force Against Covid-19 to be areas of concern in terms of infections. 

Currently, he said, these areas include the National Capital Region, Batangas, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Pampanga and Rizal.

To qualify for the DCPM, he said a HCF should have no Interim Reimbursement Mechanism Fund balance on record. 

It must also have a valid accreditation from PhilHealth and is attending to Covid-19 patients or providing the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-COV-2) testing package. 

IRM suspended

To recall, PhilHealth previously used its Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM), wherein the state insurer made cash advances for medical facilities during “fortuitous events,” such as natural disasters.    

The implementation of the IRM was suspended last year amid allegations it was abused by some unscrupulous groups to collect payments from PhilHealth through fraud.  

DCPM was discussed during the meeting on Covid-related matters, which some members of the Cabinet attended on Thursday. 

Other issues tackled at the meeting are the issue of issue of hazard pay of healthcare workers; implementation of automated contact tracing; local government units handling the preposition of goods, including the giving of wellness kits to those who tested positive for Covid-19; and the arrival of 2 million additional Covid-19 vaccines this month. 

Roque said the IATF will meet on Saturday, to discuss the quarantine classification of the National Capital Region Plus.

Image credits: Nonoy Lacza

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