Private hospitals ask Duterte to fire Duque
“The PHAPi, an association of 744 member private hospitals, now respectfully requests for the replacement of Dr. Francisco T. Duque III as DOH secretary and chairman of PhilHealth and appoint someone who can deliver the goods better in addressing the health concerns of the country,” said Dr. Rustico Jimenez, president of the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines Inc. (PHAPi).
Boy Santos, file
Private hospitals ask Duterte to fire Duque
(Philstar.com) - May 25, 2020 - 8:19pm

MANILA, Philippines — An umbrella group of private hospitals asked President Duterte on Monday for a “replacement” to embattled Health Secretary Francisco Duque III who is in hot water over his leadership of the government’s coronavirus response.

“The PHAPi, an association of 744 member private hospitals, now respectfully requests for the replacement of Dr. Francisco T. Duque III as DOH secretary and chairman of PhilHealth and appoint someone who can deliver the goods better in addressing the health concerns of the country,” said Dr. Rustico Jimenez, president of the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines Inc. (PHAPi) in a letter to Duterte.

The letter, a copy of which was sent to reporters, comes after The STAR quoted anonymous sources on its report as saying the president has begun searching for a substitute to Duque, whose handling of the coronavirus pandemic came under heavy public scrutiny anew last week. This time, over his controversial statement that said the Philippines is already in the second wave of the disease.

Duque had since taken his statement back, but not before legislators and health experts called him out for it. 

Responding to the newspaper report, Malacañang on Monday insisted Duque, who was appointed to DOH in February 2017, continues to enjoy Duterte’s trust and confidence so long as he remains in office. 

But private hospitals do not feel the same toward Duque. For one, Jimenez said the hospitals “have enough of the promises of PhilHealth and the Department of Health (DOH)” when it comes to assistance supposedly extended to them during the pandemic.

Among others, he cited how some hospitals “are given the run around” in securing assistance through the PhilHealth’s interim reimbursement mechanism (IRM). The IRM is the state health insurer’s program that grants hospitals advanced payouts of PhilHealth claims based on the average settled in the past three months.

The IRM, which was allocated P30 billion by the government, was meant to assist health facilities cope with rising costs brought by numerous tests and equipment needed on dealing with patients infected with the coronavirus. “Although some have already received their share, most however are now so financially drained as they are still waiting for the promised IRM,” Jimenez said in the letter.

Of the total IRM budget, only P12 billion went directly to hospitals as of May 18, according to PhilHealth spokesperson Dr. Shirley Domingo at the time. But Domingo, in an earlier phone interview with Philstar.com, qualified that the lower IRM disbursement was because not all hospitals applied for the aid.

In a position paper to a bill granting higher hazard pay to health workers, PHAPi earlier requested the House committee on disaster management for “tax incentives or tax holidays” to help hospitals cope with “losses incurred in general.”

Apart from failing to assist hospitals, Jimenez said it seemed Duque had grown “so exhausted” in his post.

“We have high regards to him (Duque) as one among our esteemed colleagues in the healthcare industry but he seems to be already so exhausted that there is a need for a fresh blood and a fresh mind to lead the Department of Health and the PhilHealth,” he said. — Prinz Magtulis

HEATLH SECRETARY FRANCISCO DUQUE NOVEL CORONAVIRUS
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