PhilHealth pays half of its P1.1 billion debt to PRC

Robie de Guzman   •   October 27, 2020   •   379

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) on Tuesday said it has already paid half of its P1 billion debt to the Philippine Red Cross for the cost of COVID-19 tests it conducted.

In a statement, PhilHealth said it has released on Tuesday P500 million as partial payment to the Red Cross.

It also assured to expedite the processing of the remaining balance following strict compliance to government accounting rules and regulations.

The agency’s announcement came after PRC chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Senator Richard Gordon lashed out at PhilHealth over its failure to release any payment despite its previous commitment to do so on Monday.

The PRC last week stopped the conduct of the PhilHealth-covered COVID-19 testing due to the agency’s outstanding balances.

Gordon earlier said the state insurer’s delayed payment has put on hold the PRC’s supposed flight to China for the procurement of COVID-19 test kits and other equipment.

The senator also called PhilHealth “very reckless,” and “very irresponsible” for failing to settle its debts and for giving excuses on such a serious and critical matter.

But PhilHealth president and CEO Dante Gierran said the agency is only exercising its mandate to protect their members and their funds.

“PhilHealth takes exception to the insinuation that it is reckless and is playing on people’s lives. Its prudence in taking charge of its members’ hard-earned contributions is central to the state health insurer,” Gierran said in a statement.

“Its exercise of judiciousness is to protect the people and their funds,” he added.

Gierran also assured accredited laboratories conducting the current RT-PCR tests for overseas Filipino workers that the state insurer will expedite the processing of its payments “upon submission of complete documentary requirements.”

Gordon welcomes PRC decision to reschedule May 2021 Nurses Licensure Examination

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Richard Gordon welcomes the Professional Regulation Commission’s (PRC) decision to reschedule the May 2021 Nurses Licensure Examination (NLE).

On his Twitter post, Gordon said the rescheduling of the exams would be helpful to increase the number of healthcare workers in the country.

According to the PRC Resolution no. 1353 series of 2021, the NLE will be held twice this year. The first will be on July 3 and 4 from the original May schedule. The second will be on November 21 and 22.

He said the call was after several nursing graduates expressed wanting to immediately help their families amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

 

 

Gordon further said nurses should also be given proper compensation and benefits.

The Senator reiterated nurses would no longer seek better opportunities abroad if they receive the compensation they deserve.

“Aside from recruiting more nurses, we need to make sure that they are well-compensated and their benefits are given on time. We must also ensure their welfare as well as their families.” according to his post.

The Resolution read that the rescheduling is “due to the urgent call of the government to augment the workforce of medical professions, especially the Registered Nurses, on the country’s battle against COVID-19 pandemic.

The resolution also stated that the Department of Health and the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases are willing to coordinate with the PRC in administering a large-scale examination such as the NLE.

They agreed to hold a meeting in July. AAC

FDA, PRC conducting parallel probe on alleged lapses in ivermectin mass distribution

Robie de Guzman   •   May 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) have started looking into the mass distribution of anti-parasitic drug ivermectin following reports of invalid prescriptions issued during the event, the Department of Health (DOH) said Monday.

In an online briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the DOH already forwarded to the PRC reports they gathered about the alleged invalid prescriptions issued by doctors involved in the drug distribution.

Last week, the DOH said that members of the Concerned Doctors and Citizens PH allegedly wrote prescriptions on a sheet of paper instead of a prescription pad during the distribution of ivermectin drugs led by Representatives Rodante Marcoleta and Mike Defensor in several communities in Quezon City.

“They already have acknowledged this. Ito po ay nagbigay tayo ng anecdotes at alleged na mga nireport sa atin about the invalid prescription,” Vergeire said.

“Of course, we’d like to know from them the practice of profession itong mga sumali dito na mga healthcare workers natin who are licensed by PRC,” she added.

Vergeire said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III gave the instruction for the FDA to conduct a parallel probe last Friday.

Defensor earlier defended the mass distribution of ivermectin despite repeated warnings from health authorities that the drug has not been approved to treat COVID-19 due to insufficient evidence.

The lawmaker also said that the DOH should not go after the doctors who joined the distribution.

Vergeire, however, said that the DOH will uphold the law in addressing the distribution of ivermectin.

“We will act accordingly. According to existing laws that we have in the country, according to identified violations, according to the accountable persons,” she said.

“We are on to that position and direction na i- uphold kung ano sinasabi sa batas. At gagawin po namin yan,” she added.

The DOH earlier said that a valid prescription should contain the date of prescription, the patient’s name, age, and sex. Pertinent details about the prescribing physician should also be included, such as name, office address, professional regulation number, and professional tax receipt number (if applicable).

It also called on those who received the prescriptions and the drugs to report any invalid prescriptions to the PRC, and any adverse reactions to the FDA at (02) 8809-5596 or pharmacovigilance@fda.gov.ph.

The DOH and FDA also urged the public to be “vigilant and sufficiently assess any prescriptions provided to them, as these prescriptions will protect them and ensure accountability from the issuing professional.”

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PhilHealth urged to upgrade dialysis coverage to 144 sessions amid pandemic

Robie de Guzman   •   April 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Risa Hontiveros on Thursday called on the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) to upgrade its benefits package for dialysis patients to help Filipinos cope with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Hontiveros issued the statement in support of the call of some advocacy groups for PhilHealth to increase the free dialysis coverage for all patients while the country is still in a state of emergency due to the pandemic.

The senator said the state insurer’s dialysis package should be increased from 90 to 144 sessions, and include personal protective equipment (PPEs), the COVID-19 testing required before their sessions, as well as other supply costs being passed on to patients.

“P12,000 weekly for dialysis sessions, not including transportation, medicine, food, and other daily needs of their family,” Hontiveros said in a statement.

“Ngayon hindi sila maka-access ng life-saving dialysis nila dahil puno na ang mga ospital. Karamihan ay nawalan pa ng trabaho, parang wala nang natitira sa kanila. This is a nightmare beyond comprehension,” she added.

According to Hontiveros, advocates from Dialysis PH, a support group for dialysis patients, said that they were forced onto waitlists because the few hospitals that offered dialysis services were already overflowing with patients. It is even more difficult, they said, that dialysis centers shut down completely when the staff needs to quarantine or turn the patients away when they exhibit COVID-19 symptoms.

“Marami ang pumapanaw habang nasa waitlist. Hindi sila makakahintay dahil lifeline nila ang mga treatments na ito. These deaths, although not included in the numbers reported, are also caused by the circumstances exacerbated by the pandemic,” she said.

“That is why we have to help as many people as we can by judiciously updating our policies and programs to meet the urgent needs of all Filipinos,” she added.

When Senate session resumes in May, Hontiveros said she will file a bill seeking to permanently increase the free dialysis sessions covered by PhilHealth to 144 sessions to ‘help ease the burden’ while waiting for an organ donor match.

She will also raise this concern during the upcoming budget deliberations at the Senate.

“Oportunidad talaga ito para patibayin ang ating health care system. Nararamdaman na natin ang mga epekto ng pagkaltas ng budget mula sa Health Department sa gitna ng health crisis,” she said.

“Sana matuto tayo para sa next budget season because the price of our wrong priorities is too steep to pay,” she added.

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