Patients’ discharge via guarantee letters pushed

Paying hospital bills should not be as aggravating as it is now if a planned measure institutionalizing the use of guarantee letters in private hospitals is passed by the 19th Congress.

House Deputy Minority Leader Bernadette Herrera said Sunday that she is working on legislation that would force private hospitals to accept guarantee letters presented by patients who are unable to immediately pay their bills.

Herrera, it may be recalled, prodded the then-Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to issue a memorandum order asking private hospitals to discharge patients upon assurance of payment from government agencies.

During the House hearing on the health department’s proposed budget for 2023, Health Undersecretary Charade Mercado-Grande said they are looking into forging a memorandum of agreement with private hospitals.

“Certainly, I’m interested in that special provision because I’m also crafting a bill to institutionalize so that we will not do the MoA individually,” Herrera said.

The solon lamented that legislators, particularly those in the National Capital Region, find it difficult to sign MoA with private hospitals due to their experience with the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.

“We are having trouble doing MoA with private hospitals here in NCR because PhilHealth has a lot of debt. So, they don’t want to do a MoA for fear that they won’t be paid,” she stressed.

Herrera earlier said that Covid-19 has made it imperative for the government to expand its medical assistance program to include indigent patients confined in private hospitals.

She stressed that people have had no choice but to go to the private hospital since public hospitals are already full.

According to Herrera, there has to be strong partnership between government and private hospitals to help indigent patients and private hospitals by paying them on time.

“The government must also pay on time dahil kawawa rin ang mga pribadong ospital. So, it has to be legislated,” Herrera said.

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