Philhealth to shoulder Covid-19 testing costs – Palace
Robie de Guzman • March 11, 2020 • 617
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) will shoulder the costs of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing that could be incurred by individuals seeking treatment of the illness, a Malacañang official announced Wednesday.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said this is on top of Philhealth’s coverage for quarantine and isolation costs.
Nograles added the move is part of government efforts to address public concerns involving coronavirus.
“The President recognizes that everyone in the country is concerned about Covid-19 and the threat this poses to the health and lives of our loved ones, especially vulnerable individuals like senior citizens,” Nograles said in a statement.
“Given this, the last thing we want is for our citizens to worry about medical costs and expenses. Their only concern should be their well-being and the well-being of their families,” he added.
Nograles, a member of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, also shared that Philhealth is now in the process of formalizing and operationalizing the new benefit.
He likewise assured that the government is working overtime to ensure that there would be an adequate number of testing kits “in order to quickly identify and isolate those infected with Covid-19.”
“We are fast-tracking the deployment of these kits so these can be used at the soonest possible time. Per Dr. Destura of Manila Healthtek, the rapid diagnostic test kit for Covid-19 is set for field validation study, and that UP PGH and the National Institute for Health have agreed to support the study,” he said.
Some lawmakers earlier called on the government to immediately mass-produce the test kits developed by local scientists to accommodate the growing number of people suspected to have contracted the virus.
The test kits were developed by local scientists at the University of the Philippines-National Institute of Health (UP-NIH) through funding provided by the Department of Science and Technology.
Its use has been greenlighted by the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Tuesday.
Nograles said local experts just need to conduct validation of 500 tests for coronavirus for the clinical sensitivity analysis as a pre-condition set by the FDA.
He said the NIH is hoping to secure approval for the field validation testing by Friday.
“Once it passes the clinical tests, the FDA will grant full access by all hospitals, as guided by the DOH,” he added.
The Philippines has so far reported 33 confirmed novel coronavirus cases.
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Manny Pacquiao on Friday said he has filed a resolution calling for a one-year suspension of the increase in Philippine Health Insurance (PhilHealth) premium contributions for healthcare workers amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.
In Senate Resolution 429, Pacquiao urged the Senate to call for the suspension of the increase in Philhealth premium rate for healthcare professionals for the year 2020 “as a token of gratitude” to their sacrifices amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The senator filed the resolution as Philhealth is poised to implement an increase in premium payments from 2.75% to 3% of its members’ monthly salary.
The increase is provided in the Universal Health Care Act, which provides for the automatic enrolment of all Filipino citizens in the government’s National Health Insurance Program. The law also mandates an annual increase in premium rate until it reaches 5% by 2024.
“The first year of the implementation of the increased rate of premium contributions, coincided with the advent and continuation of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines,” the resolution read.
“This has constrained most, if not all, health care professionals and other health care workers in the country sacrificing and risking their well-being and even their lives, to help cure the afflicted and stem the surge of transmission of the disease caused by the Covid-19 virus,” it added.
Pacquiao also pointed out that the pandemic has resulted in the “disruption of the professional practice of the health care professionals concomitantly leading to the marked decrease in the income of health care professionals and related health care workers, and to some, even to the closure of their clinics.”
“Such a suspension may help these frontliners in a small way, but the recognition and expression of gratitude will go a little farther to support them moving forward,” he said.
The Philippine Medical Association (PMA) earlier called on the government to suspend the premium payment increase for medical workers amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Malacañang on Thursday (May 21) clarified that the Philippines is still experiencing the first wave of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), contrary to the statement of Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III.
The Palace apologized for the confusion and worry brought by Duque’s statement and said there were varying interpretations of the data.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque insisted that the country is still in the first wave of the COVID-19 infection.
“Nagpapatuloy po ang first wave. Katunayan, nagpatuloy ito sa buwan ng Pebrero na may kaunti kasi na na-report at lumobo sa buwan ng March. Patuloy pong lumobo iyan hanggang sa buwan ng Mayo, kung saan nakikita natin ngayon na bumababa na (The first wave continues. In fact, it continued from February, with few reports, and ballooned in March. It continues to increase untilMay, where we can see there is a decline),” he said.
Roque also said Duque did not go through the protocol to inform President Rodrigo Duterte regarding the interpretation of the second wave.
However, the Palace official said the varying of opinions is not of importance and the government, including the public, should focus on how to prevent a second wave of COVID-19 infections.
“Ang importante maiwasan po ang pagbalik ng malawakang numero ng magkakasakit sa COVID-19. Nagkakaisa po ang gobyerno na gagawin ang lahat ng hakbang upang maiwasan ang second wave (What’s important is, we prevent another increase in the number of COVID-19 cases. The government is united in doing everything to prevent a second wave),” Roque said. –AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)
MANILA, Philippines – Inatasan na ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte ang Department of Budget and Management (DB M) na humanap ng dagdag na pondo para sa pamamahagi ng ikalawang bugso ng government cash aid sa ilalim ng Social Amelioration Program (SAP).
Ayon kay Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, inutusan na ng pangulo si DBM Secretary Wendel Avisado na gumawa ng listahan ng mga ahensiyang maaaring pagkunan ng kinakailangang pondo para sa second tranche ng SAP.
Nasa 18 milyong mahihirap na pamilya sa bansa ang unang target na mabigyan ng ayuda sa ilalim ng government emergency subsidy program.
Aabot sa P205 milyon ang inilaang pondo para sa programa, batay sa nakasaad sa Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.
Ngunit matapos ang pamamahagi ng unang batch ng pinansiyal na ayuda, nadagdagan pa ng limang milyon ang bilang ng pamilya na humihingi ng tulong mula sa pamahalaan dahil sa matinding hirap na dinaranas sa gitna ng COVID-19 crisis.
Inaprubahan na ng pangulo ang dagdag na benepisyaryo ng programa kaya’t kailangan ngayon ng pamahalaan ng dagdag na pondo para tustusan ito.
“Inaatasan niya si DBM Secretary Wendel Avisado, suriin niya ang mga budgetary allocations ng line agencies. Tingnan kung magkano ang pwedeng ma-realign dahil nais niya sana kung pwedeng bigyan lahat ng 23 million families ng ayuda ng 2nd tranche din,” ani Roque.
Una nang inamin ng administrasyong Duterte na paubos na ang pondo ng pamahalaan para sa COVID-19 response at hindi pa tiyak kung saan kukunin ang perang ipang-aayuda sa mga labis na naapektuhan ng krisis.
Nanawagan na rin ang pangulo sa liderato ng Kongreso na tumulong sa paghahanap ng pondo para sa mga programa ng gobyerno. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Rosalie Coz)
UNTV is a major TV broadcast network with 24-hour programming. An Ultra High Frequency station with strong brand content that appeal to everyone, UNTV is one of the most trusted and successful Philippine networks that guarantees wholesome and quality viewing experience.