PhilHealth to pay partial amount of P265-M in debt to Philippine Red Cross this week

Marje Pelayo   •   January 6, 2021   •   343

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) is likely to pay a partial amount of its debt to the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) this week amounting to P265 million pesos.

According to the agency’s spokesperson Rey Baleña, the state insurer’s outstanding balance with PRC is at P728.6 million pesos from its coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing.

Baleña assures that they have enough funds to pay its debt only that it needs to go through proper procedure.

“Hindi issue dito ang pondo o pambayad. Ito ay ginagarantiyahan natin na meron tayong pondo. In fact nakalaan na ang ating pondo para sa COVID response natin (Funding is not an issue. We guarantee that we have the fund. In fact, we have already allocated our funds for COVID-19 response),” he said.  

Meanwhile, PhilHealth said they have returned around P103.4 million worth of defective claims to the PRC.

Baleña said as required by the Commission on Audit (COA) claims must be carefully scrutinized before they are processed.

“Hindi natin sinama sa mga kuwenta na yan yung mga claims na ibinalik natin sa kanila for compliance (We did not include in the computations claims which we returned to them for compliance),” Baleña said.

“Mayroong mga claims na nakita kami na hindi natin pwedeng iprocess, hindi natin pwedeng bayaran sapagkat may mga defect. Sa aming tala ay mga 103.4 million yung worth nung mga claims na ibinalik natin sa kanila for compliance (We identified claims which we couldn’t process for payment because of defects. In our data, it’s about P103.4 million worth of claims that we returned for compliance),” he added.

Apart from COVID-19 tests to frontliners and qualified members, PhilHealth also shoulders isolation expenses when a member is required to go on quarantine. This amounts to P23,000 per member.

In  case of COVID-19 positive members or severe COVID-19 conditions, PhilHealth is shouldering about P43,000 to P786,000 worth of expenses depending on the severity of the case. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

QC gov’t taps PH Red Cross, clinic to expand COVID-19 testing

Robie de Guzman   •   April 12, 2021

The Quezon City government has partnered with the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) and a private diagnostics clinic in a bid to further increase the city’s mass testing and speed up the detection of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In a statement, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte said they have tapped the PRC and diagnostics clinic Hi-Precision to expand the city’s swab and X-ray testing amid the surge in COVID-19 cases.

“Our partnerships will allow us to pool all available resources, weave our efforts, and immediately address the needs of our most affected communities,” Belmonte said.

Under a memorandum of agreement, the PRC will allocate 8,000 RT-PCR test kits to the city worth around P3,400 each.

Belmonte said the partnership will allow the city government “to test more residents and subsequently reinforce its contact tracing efforts” and increase the turnaround time for the releasing of test results.

Under the partnership with Hi-Precision diagnostics clinic, the city government said the facility has offered to lend its two mobile X-ray units to the city.

The said units, which are worth P3.6 million, will be set up in two of the city’s HOPE facilities and cater to the admitted patients.

“The idea is to decongest our hospitals by putting these machines in our HOPE facilities so that our mild to moderate or asymptomatic patients can have their X-ray done at the soonest time possible,” Belmonte said.

The Quezon City government also said it is also planning to open three additional testing centers which will cater to individuals who are manifesting flu-like symptoms and those who have exposure to COVID-positive patients in the communities.

The existing community-based testing centers are in Toro Hill Basketball Court (District 1), Payatas Super Health Center (District 2), Old Balara Covered Court (District 3), Amoranto Stadium (District 4), SB Park Novaliches (District 5), and Talipapa Senior High School (District 6).

All centers operate Mondays to Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Duterte orders PhilHealth to speed up payment of hospital claims — Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   April 8, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to fast-track the payment of its obligations to hospitals, Malacañang said Thursday.

“President Rodrigo Roa Duterte directed the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to expedite the payment of valid claims of hospitals today, April 8, 2021,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.

PhilHealth president Dante Gierran earlier said that the state insurer has yet to complete the processing of unpaid hospital claims.

Meanwhile, Roque announced that PhilHealth approved the application of a debit-credit payment method (DCPM) to facilitate the settlement of accounts payable to Health Care Facilities (HCFs) during the state of public health emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“HCFs eligible for DCPM must be located in IATF and NTF identified regions, such as the National Capital Region, Batangas, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Pampanga, and Rizal,” Roque said.

The Palace official said these HCFs must have no Interim Reimbursement Mechanism Fund balance on record.

“They must be attending to COVID-19 patients or providing the SARS-COV-2 testing package and their accreditation is not suspended during the applicable period,” he said.

“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,” he added.

Saliva-based RT-PCR tests now covered by Philhealth – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   April 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) has directed the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) to come up with mechanisms to cover saliva-based RT-PCR tests for COVID-19.

The DOH issued the directive as it released guidelines on the use and administration of saliva-based RT-PCR testing on Tuesday.

Under a memorandum dated March 31, the DOH ordered the state insurer to “develop appropriate payment and provider engagement mechanisms” for the test.

“No payment shall be charged to patients beyond the PhilHealth coverage for the conduct of saliva-based RT-PCR testing,” read a document signed by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

In a statement on Tuesday, the DOH announced that the country is now officially allowing the use of saliva-based tests for COVID-19 “in pursuit of expanding the country’s testing capacity and ensuring immediate and efficient implementation of PDITR strategies.”

Under the DOH Department Memorandum (DM) No. 2021-0161, only licensed COVID-19 laboratories certified by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) are allowed to perform saliva-based RT-PCR.

“Furthermore, point-of-care clinics, specimen collecting facilities, and disease reporting units can perform saliva specimen collection, provided that the specimen collectors have undergone training from the referral licensed COVID-19 laboratory certified to perform saliva testing,” it said.

Only test kits validated by the RITM or other RITM-recognized laboratories can be used for saliva tests. These kits should also have a special certification from the Food and Drug Administration.

The DOH also reiterated that “only trained saliva specimen collectors” should administer the test and “only medical doctors should interpret the results of these tests.”

“Results need to be correlated with the overall clinical and epidemiological context of the patient,” it added.

The DOH said saliva tests should only be done on certain conditions and are deemed valid when such conditions are met.

“As stipulated in the guidelines, morning saliva is preferred as specimen due to higher viral load but this should not prevent specimen collection at any other time,” it said.

“Proper collection procedure should also be strictly observed where patients should not eat, drink, brush their teeth, use mouthwash or smoke for at least 30 minutes before sample collection,” it added.

The agency, however, maintained that nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swab specimens remain the standard specimen for the diagnosis of COVID-19 through RT-PCR testing.

The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) first rolled out saliva testing in January after securing government approval. The humanitarian organization offers the saliva test at P2,000 each.

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