Red Cross resumes COVID-19 testing after PhilHealth settles P500-M partial payment

Marje Pelayo   •   October 28, 2020   •   532

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) resumed its coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing services Tuesday evening (October 27) after the embattled Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) settled a partial payment of P500-million for its P1.1-billion debt.

In an online press briefing, PRC Chairman Senator Richard Gordon said he already requested all PRC laboratories, including the one at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), to resume the provision of swab testing services to PhilHealth.

Gordon’s announcement was made hours after the state insurer paid half of its arrears.

“So we are ready to test all the people that we have not tested. Iyong mga nasa hotel ngayon, padala nila, tetestingin namin agad iyan (Those staying in hotels, send them to us and we will test them),” Gordon said.

“We are going to have the testing again tonight at the Manila international airport muna, then tomorrow (Wednesday) regular testing will be conducted in full,” he added.

The Senator stressed, however, that though they did not set any deadline for PhilHealth to settle the remaining balance, they will no longer allow any repeat of the financial issues with the agency.

Thus, he said, they will immediately bill the government for future tests.

In a statement, PhiHealth President and CEO Atty. Dante Gierran assured they will expedite the processing of the remaining balance subject to strict compliance with government accounting rules and regulations.

“PhilHealth takes exception to the insinuation that it is reckless and is playing on people’s lives,” he said.

“Its prudence in taking charge of its members’ hard-earned contributions is central to the state health insurer. Its exercise of judiciousness is to protect the people and their funds,” he added.

PhilHealth maintained that it recognizes and assures the accredited laboratories conducting the current OFW RT-PCR tests that it will fast track the processing of its payments upon submission of complete documentary requirements.

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.

PH eyes COVID-19 testing for inbound travelers on 7th or 8th day

Robie de Guzman   •   May 5, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) is looking to require incoming travelers to be tested for COVID-19 within seven or eight days after their arrival in the country.

In an online briefing on Wednesday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said they will recommend this policy based on evidence that showed that the viral load is still high on the seventh or eighth day.

“Ipinakita ito nina Dr. Edsel (Salvaña) at iba pang technical advisory group members, based on evidence that on the 7th and the 8th day, nandoon yung pinakamataas na porsiyento that a person who might have the disease might turn positive,” Vergeire said.

Under current guidelines, inbound passengers are subjected to COVID-19 testing on the fifth or sixth day of their quarantine unless they manifest symptoms at an earlier point.

Vergeire said the recommendation aims to accurately identify and isolate all travelers infected with the disease, and break the chain of transmission.

“Although hindi natin dini-discount yung fact na maaaring meron na on the first, second, third, fourth, fifth pero pinakamataas po because the viral load is high is on the 7th and 8th day,” she said.

“And for us to be able to have accurate test results at ma-isolate natin agad ang may sakit ay ito po ang inirerekomenda natin ngayon,” she added.

Vergeire said the proposal has yet to be approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

The Philippine government has imposed a ban on travelers from India, including Filipinos, until May 14 to prevent the entry of a coronavirus variant believed to be contributing to the surge in COVID-19 infections in India.

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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