Duque suggests PhilHealth should handle Covid vaccine indemnity fund
MANILA, Philippines — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Thursday suggested to senators that the proposed indemnity fund for Covid-19 vaccine adverse effects be managed by the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).
Duque raised this suggestion as the Senate finance committee touched on the subject of setting up an indemnification fund for Filipinos who may suffer from severe side effects of Covid-19 vaccines.
The committee was tackling a bill seeking to expedite the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines by allowing local government units to directly purchase anti-Covid jabs.
The health chief informed lawmakers that the PhilHealth board has already directed the state insurer’s management to formulate a package for severe side effects following inoculation with any vaccine.
“This will be covered by PhilHealth through that benefit package. But again, that was not included in the corporate operating budget for 2021. And so I would like to suggest that if any fund may be identified or a source be identified to fund this particular indemnification. Siguro ang dapat mag-administer nung funding na yun, yun nang PhilHealth para sila na yung gagawa ng benefit package,” Duque said.
(Maybe the one that will administer of that funding, it should be PhilHealth so it can come up with a benefit package.)
“So instead of giving it straight to people as a compensation for whatever side effects they might experience, it will be PhilHealth, through reimbursements to hospitals, that will provide the cure for the treatment of the adverse effects,” he added.
But Senator Sonny Angara, chair of the committee, pointed out that PhilHealth still has pending payables to hospitals.
“Wala ng pera ang mga ospital, secretary [The hospitals do not have any more money, secretary]. They’re waiting for your payables. That’s the truth…It takes so long for PhilHealth to pay up,” Angara told Duque.
“That’s the reality on the ground. Umiiyak itong mga small hospital owners [these hospital owners are already crying] with the pace of reimbursements of PhilHealth and then we’re going to give more on their plate?” he added.
Duque, in response, said he would talk to PhilHealth president and CEO Dante Gierran to fast track the release of the state insurers pending payables to hospitals.
A bill has earlier been filed in the Senate seeking the establishment of a “vaccine indemnification fund” to compensate recipients who would suffer adverse side effects from their vaccination.
At least 600,000 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine of China-based Sinovac Biotech are set to arrive in the country on Feb. 23.
The Philippines is also expected to receive 117,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine through the Covax facility in mid-February while over 5.5 million to 9.2 million doses AstraZeneca is expected by mid to late February.
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