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Senators tell PhilHealth to pursue an ‘aggressive catch-up plan’ as private hospitals threaten to severe ties

SENATORS on Tuesday called on the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) to pursue an “aggressive catch-up plan” after private hospitals expressed intent to make good on their earlier threat to cut off ties after failing to collect billions-worth of claims by end-October.

“PhilHealth must pick up the slack in settling its mounting obligations to hospitals that compromise our healthcare system,” said Senator Mary Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares in a statement Tuesday.

“The complaints of hospitals on these slow reimbursements on spendings of hospitals and patients have long been present,” Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” M. Angara, who chairs the Senate Finance committee, said in a mix of English and Filipino in a statement late Monday.

“PhilHealth needs to hurry the processing of hospital claims, otherwise we will have systems failure here in our healthcare system,” he said.

Several private hospitals in Metro Manila, Iloilo, Cagayan Valley, and General Santos City are planning to disengage from the state-owned insurer, according to Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines, Inc. President Jose Rene de Grano.

He noted the company’s failure to come up with concrete solutions for unpaid claims by Oct. 31.

“They (hospitals) already signified that they will no longer renew their accreditation with PhilHealth,” he said, adding that in the next few weeks, more private health facilities may announce the same.

Senator Maria Imelda Josefa “Imee” R. Marcos, who chairs the Senate committee on Economic Affairs, said the withdrawal of private hospitals would compromise the country’s Universal Health Care Act.

“At this time when people have neither jobs nor money, who will pay for their medical expenses if hospitals are no longer registered with PhilHealth?” Ms. Marcos said.

In the Philippines, there are more private-owned hospitals than those operated by government.

“ARTA or the Anti-Red Tape Authority should look into the processes of PhilHealth to figure the reason for the slow payment of the hospitals’ health insurance claims,” Mr. Angara said. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan

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