MANILA — State medical insurer PhilHealth's faster method of reimbursing the claims by hospitals will now be implemented in all high and critical risk areas for COVID-19, Malacañang said on Thursday.
The PhilHealth's debit-credit payment method initially applied only in Metro Manila and Batangas, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Pampanga, and Rizal provinces.
But the inter-agency task force leading the country's pandemic response, in a meeting on Thursday, approved the application of this payment method "in all high risk and critical risk areas," said Palace spokesman Harry Roque.
"These other 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, as applicable," he said in a statement.
The IATF also directed the Task Group Treat to utilize projections that "shall identify health capacity needs required to lower health care and intensive care unit (ICU) utilization rates," he said.
The task group "shall 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," added the official.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier this month told PhilHealth "to expedite the payment of valid claims of hospital," Roque said, after the insurer admitted some "slowness" in reimbursing hospitals.
PhilHealth president and CEO Dante Gierran attributed this to coronavirus infections, which he said hit some PhilHealth personnel, reduced its workforce, and prompted a lockdown of its office.
Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines (PHAPi) president Jose Rene de Grano in February said PhilHealth owed his group about P6 billion. The debt has forced some hospitals to cut down its work force or implement staggered working hours, he said.
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.