PhilHealth admits 'slowness' in payment of hospital claims

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 31 2021 04:23 PM | Updated as of Mar 31 2021 04:32 PM

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MANILA — State medical insurer PhilHealth on Wednesday acknowledged some "slowness" in its processing of reimbursement claims by hospitals, which a group said forced some facilities to downsize their workforce as they face the COVID-19 pandemic. 

PhilHealth last year received P107 billion in claims for the service of hospitals to its members, and settled about 85 percent of this, said its CEO and President Dante Gierran. 

"Talagang may mga utang kami. May mga utang kami sa hospitals, private or government," he said in a televised public briefing. 

(We really have debt, we have debt to hospitals, private or government.)

Gierran attributed the payment delay to coronavirus infections, which he said hit some PhilHealth personnel, reduced its workforce, and prompted a lockdown of its office.

Some claims were returned to hospitals for revision, others were denied or still in process, he said.

"Talagang may kabagalan po ang pagbayad ngayon (There really is slowness in the payment). We admit, we accept that we have obligations, we have liabilities. All of them are being processed," Gierran said. 

Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines (PHAPi) president Jose Rene de Grano said earlier this month that PhilHealth owed his group about P6 billion. 

The debt has forced some hospitals to cut down its work force or implement staggered working hours. 

Gierran, a former chief of the National Bureau of Investigation, took leadership of PhilHealth in September last year. He replaced Ricardo Morales who resigned as he battled cancer and allegations that PhilHealth officials pocketed P15 billion in public funds, approved overpriced projects, and released funds to favored hospitals.

In February, Gierran said at least 94 percent of the alleged stolen funds were accounted for.