Lizada says CSC chair issued guidance to withhold info on PhilHealth officials’ cases

Marje Pelayo   •   August 25, 2020   •   474

MANILA, Philippines — Some information on cases involving officials of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) are allegedly being withheld.

This was revealed during the hearing on Tuesday (August 25) by the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability and the House Committee on Public Accounts on the alleged corruption within the agency.

The lawmakers initially asked officials of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) who were present at the hearing regarding cases that have been filed with the agency against PhilHealth executives .

CSC Assistant Commissioner Ariel Ronquillo was not able to provide a specific number of cases so the lawmakers asked Commissioner Aileen Lizada.

The official said there have been 74 cases filed in the CSC Central Office since 2010.

Of the said number, 19 are pending including the ones involving high ranking PhilHealth officials.

The panel questioned Ronquillo why he was not able to give the information when he was supposed to be the representative of CSC Chairperson Alicia del Rosa-Bala in the hearing.

Lizada then revealed that there was an instruction from the CSC Chairperson not to give out any information about the PhilHealth officials’ cases.

“If my recollection serves me right: ‘This information should not be made public nor be given out to anyone who would be asking either in aid of legislation or investigation,’ parang ganun. Iyon ang natatandaan ko, (Something like that. That’s what I remember),” said Lizada.

But according to Ronquillo, the instructions were to keep the information confidential.

“[The] instruction of the chair was to ensure that this matter will be kept confidential and not to be shared to the public, but will be shared if needed in any of the investigations being conducted concerning PhilHealth. So there is no guidance to suppress evidence,” he said.

Lizada said her office is conducting an inventory of all cases after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered a task force to investigate the alleged anomalies in the state insurer.

The House panel will resume its inquiries for the CSC in the next hearing on Thursday where CSC Chairperson Bala has been invited for a chance to respond to the queries.

Meanwhile, the audio recording of the meeting where the said guidance was mentioned has been subpoenaed to shed light on Commissioner Lizada’s claim that there had been an order not to disclose information about PhilHealth officials’ cases with the CSC. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Absences of gov’t workers due to COVID-19 considered excused – CSC

Robie de Guzman   •   January 20, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The absence from work of government personnel due to COVID-19 quarantine, isolation, or treatment will now be considered excused, the Civil Service Commission (CSC) said.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the CSC said the policy is contained in the amended interim guidelines on the use of leave credits for absences due to coronavirus infections.

The agency said that under Memorandum Circular 2, s. 2022 dated January 18, absence from work for every instance of the required quarantine period, isolation, and/or treatment for government workers who are “infected or identified as close contacts of a suspect, probable, and/or confirmed cases of COVID-19 while in the performance of their official functions, (onsite or WFH arrangement)” shall be considered as excused absence.

“They may be required to adopt a work-from-home arrangement depending on the nature of their work” pursuant to the guidelines on alternative work arrangements contained in the memorandum, the CSC said.

Previously, this provision only applied to public health workers, it added.

The CSC said excused absence refers to the period when a government worker is not required to report for work due to required quarantine period, isolation, and/or treatment, and/or announcement of work suspension, but are entitled to pay.

The required quarantine period refers to the prevailing number of days required for a person to undergo quarantine, or separation and restriction of movement while waiting for swab tests results or if the person will become sick.

Meanwhile, the isolation period refers to the separation of a person who is sick with a contagious disease for purposes of treatment and monitoring.

“Absences incurred from undergoing the required quarantine period, isolation, and/or treatment after official travel from countries with or without localized COVID-19 transmissions or from local areas under community quarantine are considered excused absences,” the CSC said.

“For personal travel, only the required quarantine period may be excused, while the isolation and/or treatment period shall be charged against leave credits,” it added.

Absence from work for every instance of the required quarantine period for government workers who are “infected or identified as close contacts of a suspect, probable, and/or confirmed cases of COVID-19 due to personal activities” shall also be considered an excused absence.

“In both categories, the employees may also be required to adopt a work-from-home arrangement while they are awaiting swab test results or completing the required quarantine period,” the CSC said.

“However, in the event that they become sick, the period of their isolation and/or treatment shall be considered sick leave and charged against their leave credits,” it added.

The agency noted that absences incurred from undergoing the required quarantine period, isolation, and/or treatment after personal international travel without approved travel authority before or after the declaration of a state of public health emergency due to COVID-19 shall be charged against leave credits.

Absences incurred from undergoing the required quarantine period, isolation, and/or treatment due to personal activities in violation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging and Infectious Diseases’ protocols, shall also be charged against leave credits, it added.

When returning to work, employees will be required to submit their application for leave, and applicable documents, including certificate of completion of quarantine, medical certificate clearing them to report back to work, and medical records showing COVID-19 treatment.

Private hospitals postpone PhilHealth holiday plan

Maris Federez   •   December 31, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines (PHAPi) announced that it will put its plan of a PhilHealth holiday from January 1 to 5, 2022 on hold, its president, Dr. Jose de Grano, said.

“With that consideration po, inisip namin na siguro i-postpone muna natin para po mabigyan ng pagkakataon na makapaghanda ang ating mga pasyente,” said de Grano.

The group earlier decided to go on a PhilHealth holiday to protest the delay in the release of reimbursement claims of hospitals from the state insurer.

De Grano said the group had a change of heart after patients made an appeal for them to be given time to prepare for the effects of the PhilHealth holiday.

De Grano, however, maintained that while they suspended holding a PhilHealth holiday, the decision of other private hospitals in Iloilo not to renew their accreditation with the state insurer will still push through.

Among these hospitals are the:

  • Metro Iloilo Hospital
  • Iloilo Doctors’ Hospital
  • Iloilo Mission Hospital
  • Medicus Medical Center
  • Qualimed Iloilo
  • Paul’s Hospital of Iloilo
  • Medical City Iloilo

“Ito pong sa Iloilo, they are still determined to continue with their disengagement. By January 1 po, ang alam ko po ay kakalas na sila sa PhilHealth,” de Grano said.

The PHAPi official said PhilHealth’s unsettled claims with private hospitals nationwide are estimated at Php20 billion.

Meanwhile, Malacañang appeals to private hospitals to participate in PhilHealth’s debit-credit payment method 3 (DCPM) so as not to hamper their services to the public.

“The best way is to participate sa DPCM 3 para ng sa ganun magkaroon ng fresh funds ang hospital. Hindi po maapektuhan ang serbisyo sa taumbayan sa mga pasyente na nangangailangan ng hospital care,” said Acting Presidential Spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.

PHAPi countered this, saying that some provisions in the DCPM only favor PhilHealth and such are not acceptable to their members.

“Sila ang magbabayad, sila ang magbibigay ng kondisyon kung magkano ibabayad, kung papano ibabayad. Para pong hindi naman tama iyon,” de Grano said. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)

PhilHealth appeals to private hospitals to reconsider plan to implement PhilHealth holiday in 2022

Maris Federez   •   December 28, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) has appealed to the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines (PHAPI) to rethink its plan of implementing PhilHealth holiday come January 2022.

PhilHealth said it is the people who will be greatly affected by the said decision should all the members of the said organization numbering almost 500 will implement it.

In a statement, the state insurer said it has sped up the release of the claims of hospitals amounting to Php11 billion through the debit-credit payment method (DCPM).

“As of December 24, 2021, PhilHealth has fast-tracked the release of P11.64 billion for payment of claims thru the Debit Credit Payment Method (DCPM) to hospital partners nationwide,” the statement said.

It added that 182 hospitals have signified their intention to be included in the third wave of the DCPM.

Under DCPM 3, PhilHealth will settle 80% of the hospital claims for COVID-19 cases, and the rest will be paid after all requirements are processed.

The agency added that it has been coordinating with its hospital partners to resolve the issue of claims reimbursements.

“With the welfare of patients in mind, PhilHealth is constantly conducting reconciliation meetings on claims reimbursement issues with all its hospital partners nationwide to ensure continuing availment of members’ benefits,” the state insurer said

In an interview with UNTV News Tuesday morning, PHAPI President Jose Rene de Grano said they are ready to withhold their planned PhilHealth holiday if the agency will meet with them and make its contract with private hospitals equitable.

De Grano added that some hospitals do not agree with the implementation of the DCPM.

“We have to reconsider na dapat yung aming pinaka performance commitment na parang kasunduan between PhilHealth at saka private hospital, dapat po ‘yan ay suriing mabuti para po equal po ang footing ng PhilHealth at saka ng mga private hospital,” de Grano said.

“Hindi po katulad ngayon kasi na medyo masyadong pabor po sa PhilHealth kaya po nagkaroon tayo ng mga problema sa mga pagbabayad na nakikita po natin ngayon,” he added.

De Grano also clarified that as of date, no private hospitals have yet to declare that they will cut ties with PhilHealth, except for the seven in Iloilo City that have earlier announced their plan not to renew their PhilHealth accreditation.

PhilHealth has an estimated Php9 billion unsettled COVID-19 claims from private hospitals. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

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