Bagong Henerasyon Rep. Bernadette Herrera on Sunday said she is currently working on a bill that would institutionalize the use of guarantee letters by indigent patients in private hospitals.
She made the disclosure during her interpellation at the recent House hearing on the proposed budget of the Department of Health (DOH) for 2023.
Ex-health chief Francisco Duque III, upon Herrera’s prodding, issued a memorandum order allowing indigent patients to present guarantee letters to private hospitals that have existing memorandum of agreement with the DOH and the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
A guarantee letter is an assurance of payment offered by DOH, DSWD and other concerned government agencies and institutions, including Congress, on behalf of a patient, for the portion of the hospital bill.
According to Herrera, an administrative order is not enough.
“That’s why she would push for the passage of a law institutionalizing government medical assistance in private hospitals,” she said.
During the budget hearing Undersecretary Charade Mercado-Grande said the agency was proposing a special provision in the 2023 national budget to “somehow ease the burden” in coming up with MOA with private hospitals.
Herrera replied, saying “certainly, I’m interested in that special provision because I’m also crafting a bill to institutionalize that para hindi na tayo isa-isang nagmo-MOA pa.
She lamented that legislators, particularly those in Metro Manila, are having a hard time entering into MOA with private hospitals because of their experience with the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.
“We are encountering a problem at the National Capital Region about the MOA with private hospitals due to PhilHealth’s debts, the reason why they (hospitals), fear entering into an agreement,” she noted.
She previously said the COVID-19 experience has made it more imperative for government to expand its medical assistance program to include indigent patients confined in private hospitals not by their own choosing.
“This pandemic showed to us that public hospitals were overwhelmed (with patients), and that the constituents have no choice but to go to the private hospitals,” she said.
She cited a strong partnership between the government and private hospitals is needed to help not only
indigent patients but also private hospitals by paying them on time.
“The government must also pay on time because the private hospitals are at the losing end so it has to be legislated,” she said.