By Billy Begas
House Committee on Ways and Means chairperson Joey Salceda on Sunday called on the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to rationalize its standards for coverage amid reports that it does not cover hospital tents.
“How can we lack so much common sense? And why is it the patient’s fault? It’s PhilHealth who sets the standards. And tents are merely extensions of hospitals. You are in a tent because the hospital proper cannot yet accommodate you, but you are being given hospital care. This is the height of bureaucratic absurdity,” Salceda said.
Salceda said whether it is in the hospital building or a tent, “it’s healthcare.”
“This is so elementary. There will be a change in policy only because some Congressman raises hell about it. This is so exhausting. PhilHealth has to be proactive. They always knew hospitals were going to set up extensions because of overutilization. This is seriously frustrating,” Salceda added.
PhilHealth Acting Senior Vice President Neri Santiago earlier said that PhilHealth will not cover bills incurred from hospital-built tents due to lack of standards for these procedures.
“How is it elementally different from being in some other hospital facility? When we argue over questions like this that could possibly discourage people from seeking medical care, we are harming the COVID-19 response,” Salceda added.
The solon said PhilHealth should immediately release standards for this matter.
Reports suggest that hospitals charge up to P1,000 per day in these tents.
Salceda said his committee has the power to subpoena hospitals who overcharge, given the VAT exemptions for COVID-19 supplies and PPEs.
“I am also warning hospitals. Right now, we want medical facilities to focus on getting people well. But, there will be a time after COVID-19 when we can subpoena your managers for abusive medical billing practices. So, don’t push it,” Salceda said.
Salceda is also pushing for a measure, which prevents surprise medical billing and pushes for transparency in fees and charges in hospitals.