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Grilled regarding COVID-19 package circular, PhilHealth admits delay, fault

The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) on Tuesday admitted after intense grilling by lawmakers that there was delay in the retroactivity of its circular on COVID-19 benefit packages.

During the hearing of the House Committee on Health, panel chairperson Representative Angelina "Helen" Tan said it is not acceptable that it took PhilHealth seven months to route the circular even though it was already approved by its board.

"Retroactive 'yung inyo pong circular, that will take effect on November 26 (2020) and you issued that circular on June 17, 2021," Tan told PhilHealth officials.

"For me the answer that it took time to route that circular, wherein it's approved already by the board, is not acceptable," she added.

Tan was referring to PC 2021-0008, issued on June 17, 2021, "which declared that only confirmed cases shall be covered by the benefit package which shall be applied to cases starting November 26, 2020 and providing for an intermediate package which shall cover those cases which has been managed as COVID-19 cases, which I suppose is for COVID-19 probable cases."

Attorney Eli Dino Santos of PhilHealth admitted that they were at fault over the delay.

"I admit, it cannot be denied that there is delay in this. There's so many reasons and we will not provide excuses. It's just that there were several circumstances that went beyond our control. It's already late when the circular was published," Santos said.

PhilHealth president Dante Gierran ensured that the issue is already being discussed.

"There was admission by my assistant, there was some kind of delay that was made by the Corporation and actually this was already discussed," Gierran said.

Gierran said he would recommend to the PhilHealth board to "reconsider" the retroactive circular.

"I would recommend to the board, being the highest authority in the corporation, to have this matter be taken into consideration for favorable action,” he said.

House Resolution 1966 was also adopted by the panel urging PhilHealth to rectify the issues pointed out in the said circular to ensure just policy for the benefit of Filipinos.  —KBK, GMA News

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