PhilHealth urged to upgrade dialysis coverage to 144 sessions amid pandemic

Robie de Guzman   •   April 22, 2021   •   520

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.

House OKs free annual medical checkup for Filipinos on 2nd reading

Marje Pelayo   •   May 25, 2021

 

 

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representative (HOR) approved on second reading a measure that seeks to provide free annual medical checkup for Filipinos.

During the plenary session on Monday (May 24), lawmakers passed on second reading House Bill 9072 or the “Free Annual Medical Checkup Act.”

The bill aims to enhance programs focusing on preventive and curative medicine as well as disease prevention, disability, and death.

Under the bill, all Filipino citizens shall be entitled to the applicable benefits under the Philippine Health Insurance (PhilHealth) Program by virtue of their membership with the agency.

Likewise, members shall be entitled to a free annual medical checkup that shall include blood sugar and cholesterol tests.

Subject to the availability of PhilHealth funds, the bill also seeks an expanded laboratory and diagnostic testing for Filipinos.

AnaKalusugan party-list Rep. Michael Defensor said primary health care includes preventive care, to which medical checkups fall under.

“This bill aims to secure that each Filipino shall be given the chance to have a free annual medical checkup to promote their right to health and health literacy,” Defensor said.

Also, the bill requires PhilHealth to establish a system that allows access to a free annual medical checkup to promote health, identify risks, and ensure early diagnosis.

Indemnification package for severe COVID-19 side effects to be released this month — PhilHealth

Robie de Guzman   •   May 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), on Friday, announced that the indemnification package for individuals who will experience adverse effects following COVID-19 vaccination will be released soon.

During the Laging Handa briefing, PhilHealth Vice President for Corporate Affairs Shirley Domingo said the indemnification package may be released within this month after the PhilHealth Board approved its guidelines.

She, however, said that the funding requirement for this package is still being finalized.

“Iyong inaayos lang po natin ay iyong funding po nito. Kasi under the law, we are supposed to be provided with 500 million pesos, iyong trust specifically for this purpose,” she said.

Republic Act 11525 or the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021 provided P500 million for the COVID-19 National Vaccine Immunity Fund.

The law, which was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on February 26, states that the benefits package will cover individuals who experienced serious adverse events following immunization that required hospitalization, and in case of permanent disability or death.

“Ito po iyong kung naturukan sila, na-vaccinate sila for COVID at nagkaroon sila ng serious adverse event ‘no, ibig sabihin may matinding side effect, serious adverse events, or kung ma-hospitalize sila or huwag naman sana pero kung may nabawian ng buhay dahil diyan, lahat po ito ay pasok doon sa benefit na iyon,” Domingo said.

The Philippines has so far administered over 2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses since the government rolled out its mass immunization in March.

Of this figure, a total of 1,744,649 people have already received their allocated first dose, while 320,586 have been given their second dose.

PhilHealth’s debit-credit payment method now applies to all COVID-19 high, critical risk areas – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   April 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The government’s task force for COVID-19 response has approved the application of Philippine Health Insurance Corp.’s (PhilHealth) debit-credit payment method (DCPM) in areas with high-risk and critical COVID-19 situation nationwide, Malacañang said Friday.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) approved the policy on Thursday, April 22.

Roque said the move was made as high-risk and critical risk areas will also be prioritized in the COVID-19 vaccine allocation, human health resource deployment, and other relevant COVID-19 response measures, as applicable.

Prior to the IATF’s order, PhilHealth, under its Circular 2021-0004, provides for the use of payment method to facilitate the settlement of accounts payable to healthcare facilities during the State of Public Health Emergency brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

PhilHealth initially applied DCPM only to areas identified by the IATF, particularly in the National Capital Region, Batangas, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Pampanga, and Rizal.

Roque said the IATF likewise directed the National Task Force (NTF) Task Group Treat, through the One COVID Referral System, to utilize the Feasibility Analysis of Syndromic Surveillance Using Spatio-Temporal Epidemiological Modeler for Early Detection of Diseases (FASSSTER) projections on target beds and human resources for health.

“These projections shall identify health capacity needs required to lower health care and intensive care unit (ICU) utilization rates,” he said.

“The NTF shall also review and implement the recommended Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat- Reintegrate strategies to reduce the health utilization rates and augment the needs of human resources for health,” he added.

Roque said that the task group will also identify target additional beds on a weekly basis that will substantially reduce health care and ICU utilization rates, determine and list specific health facilities and infrastructure to contribute these additional beds, and operationalize how these beds become functional with adequate human resources for health and equipment.

The Palace official earlier said that the government is eyeing to add 200 more ICU beds for COVID-19 patients.

“The NTF shall further engage the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority to develop training and instructional materials of available COVID-19 response frameworks to enhance the enforcement of COVID-19 strategies at the barangay level,” Roque said.

The said materials shall be cascaded to the barangay, purok, sitio, and zone levels through the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the regional counterparts of the NTF for immediate and intensified implementation through barangay empowerment, he added.

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