By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday expressed dismay at the threat issued by the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines Inc. (PHAPI) that its members will cut ties with Philippine Health Insurance Corp. or PhilHealth if the state health insurer refuses to settle their unpaid claims.
Hontiveros said such pronouncement is a sad and ill-timed attack on the Universal Health Care (UHC) law and hopes that PHAPI will reconsider their stance.
But if it makes good on their threat, the senator said the government should consider revoking its members’ licenses to operate.
“I hear the concern of some private hospitals. I understand the need to balance the right to do business and provide health care services,” Hontiveros said.
“But threatening the public with health care denial is wrong and again, cannot be tolerated. I know that the majority of private hospitals don’t think this way. But to those who think they can take hostage the people’s right to universal health care, you are in the wrong business,” Hontiveros said.
PHAPI President Dr. Rustico Jimenez had said that PhilHealth owes them around P2.5-billion worth of reimbursements.
“It’s very risky na accredited ka nga, bigay ka nang bigay ng serbisyo but at the end of the day hindi ka naman babayaran. So where will you get funds?” Jimenez said in an interview.
Because of this, members of the PHAPI, around 600 of them, have said they will no longer renew their accreditation with PhilHealth in 2020.
But Hontiveros said she considers the threat an attack on the people’s right to universal health care, especially with the recent signing of the UHC Law’s implementing rules and regulations.
If it pushes through, she said millions of PhilHealth members would be deprived of access to adequate hospital care and treatment.
“Ang mga hospital ay dapat nanggagamot, hindi nananakot at nagdadamot,” Hontiveros said.
“Amid epidemics left and right, the threat by several private hospitals not to renew their PhilHealth accreditation and deny service to members is not only shocking and callous, but it also borders on the criminal,” she said.
“ It is a direct attack on and violation of the people’s right to universal health care,” Hontiveros added.
What is needed, she said, is to streamline the process and turn-around-time (TAT) of hospital reimbursements to PhilHealth, improve management systems and strengthen partnerships and coordination with health care providers without sacrificing the need to keep the process transparent, accountable and fraud-free.
“Ang kailangan natin ay solusyon hindi dagdag kunsumisyon. Kaya itigil na ang mga bantang ito. Walang panalo dito. Lahat talo, lalo na ang kalusugan ng ordinaryong tao, (we need solutions and not additional burdens. So let’s stop these threats. No one wins in this case. All of us will lose, especially the health of ordinary people),” Hontiveros reiterated.