6 CDO private hospitals to halt ‘deposit-first policy’

SIX private hospitals in Cagayan de Oro City have signed an agreement with the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to end the hospitals' deposit policy.

The Polymedic-Velez and Medical Plaza, Madonna and Child Hospital, Cagayan de Oro Medical Center (COMC), Sabal Hospital Inc., and Maria Reyna Xavier University Hospital all signed the memorandum of agreement (MOA) to signify their support to the "No Deposit Policy".

Of the city’s roster of private hospitals only the Cagayan University Medical Center (CUMC) did not sign the MOA.

With the MOA, Datu Masiding Alonto Jr., PhilHealth area vice president for Mindanao, said all PhilHealth-eligible members can now avail of health care without giving advance payments or deposits.

Alonto said the MOA, the first of its kind in the country, strengthens the Republic Act 10932, as amended by R.A 8344, otherwise known as an Act penalizing the refusal of hospitals and medical clinics to administer appropriate initial medical treatment and support in emergency or serious cases.

"We will formalize these small gains to convert this partnership with PhilHealth into an active advocacy to ensure unfettered access to quality care," he said.

"Under this agreement, the accredited providers shall not impose a deposit requirement for eligible PhilHealth members. This is true regardless of the patients' need, emergency medical care or not. We believe that membership of PhilHealth is a sufficient guarantee. And this is a fundamental logic of this agreement, this is the fundamental logic of this insurance," Alonto said.

But Dr. Jesus Jardin, CUMC medical director, refused to sign the agreement yesterday saying he is not authorized to sign the MOA on the owner's behalf.

"About two days ago, that was the first time I was able to see the contract because I was out of the country most the time. That's why I cannot really commit immediately. However, I sat down and talk the owner, she is out of town today, and since we are not authorize to sign on her behalf, but in principle we do agree," Jardin said.

"It is the duty and responsibility of the hospitals to admit emergency patients and render necessary services without asking for deposit. So, that's already a practice and it does not need any more further reenactment," he said.

While Dr. Reuben Go, medical director of both Polymedic Velez and Medical Plaza signed the agreement, he however asked the city government to give hospitals tax credit, and a possible discount on the hospitals' electricity and water expensive bills.

"Our policy is that, if the patient is admitted to the intensive care unit, we ask the family to go to the cashier to ask for a slip. Then we will take care of the patients, his medicines, and stabilize their vital signs. If the patient needs surgery, it depends on the doctor, if he or she accepts just the PhilHealth card," he said.

City Mayor Oscar Moreno for his part, called the move an achievement for the health care system in the city.

Moreno said the new agreement will benefit the indigents the most.

"History is being made. Health is non-negotiable, and now the challenge is how to improve more. There are technical questions, I understand, but more than the legal documents and questions raised, is the partnership, where stakeholders move together in one direction," Moreno said. (With reports from Crystel Ann Perpetua, Mary Ross Odchigue)
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