Oro council to look into ‘down payment’ practice in hospitals

THE Cagayan de Oro City Council is set to investigate the apparent lack of intensive care unit (ICU) rooms in hospitals and the supposed practice of asking for a down payment experienced by former Mayor Pablo Magtajas, when he was admitted before his death last June 19.

Councilor Ma. Lourdes Gaane's committee on health and sanitation will look into the two problems, which she said, had been uncovered after the demise of Magtajas.

Gaane will hold a committee meeting on Friday, July 7, calling administrators of hospitals in the city, including health care providers.

Despite a law that prohibits advance payments, Gaane said hospitals continue to practice it and seemingly gets away with it.

Magtajas was transferred from one hospital to another because the hospitals' ICU was either full or due to the complexity of the down payment practice.

Republic Act (RA) 8344, otherwise known as an Act Prohibiting the Demand for Deposit or Advance payment for the confinement of patients in hospitals and medical clinics in certain cases, provides that “in emergency or serious cases, it shall be unlawful for any hospital or medical to demand any other form of advance payment or deposit as a pre-requisite for confinement, or to refuse to administer medical support to prevent death or permanent disability.”

The councilor also cited RA 7875 or the National Health Insurance Act which provides “comprehensive approach to health development which shall endeavor to make essential goods, health and other social services available to all the people at affordable cost and to provide free medical care to paupers.”

“Under these two national laws, there are clear violations of protocol attending the former mayor's unfortunate experience in the hospitals that must be reviewed in aid of legislation,” she said.

“The Magtajas case calls the need for the government to improve the capability of the city in intensive care aspect,” she added.

Gaane will also shed light on the lack of ICUs in the city, citing that even the City Government-run hospital still doesn't have it, despite the approved budget since August 2016.

“For if a former city mayor, a father of a sitting kagawad, a senior citizen, and a Philhealth member, would be still required a cash deposit to avail of emergency services, we pity the poor families who would face the same dilemma every day. We would craft legislation, that soon, every Kagay-anon would say sa ‘CDO, protektado ka (your protected)’,” she said.

Councilor Nadya Emano said the committee on health and sanitation should also look into another practice of hospitals to prolong the stay of patients even when it is not needed, resulting to a higher hospital bill.
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