SPMC is regional COVID-19 center, serves patients beyond Davao â PhilHealth exec
This March 3, 2015 photo shows the Southern Philippines Medical Center on J.P. Laurel Ave in Davao City
Southern Philippines Medical Center Facebook page
SPMC is regional COVID-19 center, serves patients beyond Davao — PhilHealth exec
(Philstar.com) - August 13, 2020 - 4:36pm

MANILA, Philippines — There is no truth to claims that favoritism played a role in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.'s allegedly inequitable budget allocation for a Davao-based hospital, and the current amount was allotted in accordance with the company's rules and regulations, an exec of the state insurance firm said Thursday. 

Tuesday's Senate probe into allegations of corruption within the company found that the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City received the highest amount of interim reimbursement mechanism (IRM) funds with P325 million in compensation.

In a statement issued Thursday afternoon, Dr. Hector Malate, acting regional vice president for PhilHealth Region XI pointed out that SPMC is "the largest government hospital in the country, with a 1,500 bed-capacity, catering patient-referrals from all other regions outside Davao."

The distribution of IRM is an emergency measure with PhilHealth that is geared towards providing hospitals an emergency fund to respond to unexpected health events, such as pandemics and other calamities.

"SPMC is also one of the two COVID centers in the region and the biggest COVID referral hospital in Mindanao. As with all other releases, the amount of IRM funds released to SPMC was based on the hospital's 90 days annual historical benefit claim and have undergone due process on granting of IRM funds. We vehemently deny allegations of favoritism on IRM releases or corruption in the region," the statement reads. 

"We would also like to reiterate that IRM is a measure adopted by the Corporation to respond to unanticipated events such as the pandemic. On a larger perspective, the pandemic did not only cause sickness but it has also disrupted our economy and has greatly affected normal operations in all private or government entities. including that of PhilHealth's. Thus, this pre-payment mechanism is needed to ensure that despite the disruptions, sufficient funds are available so that healthcare facilities continue to operate and serve patients," it also said. 

At the hearing, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said that the company's records showed a clear pattern of preference for private-owned hospitals over state-owned ones, particularly in the distribution of IRM funds. 

PhilHealth has been in hot water as of late after alleged irregularities involving billions of pesos were brought to light by a whistleblower at a separate Senate probe. To make matters worse, more than one of the companies top officials has begged off from attending both the Senate and House probes into the matter, with all three citing pre-existing health conditions. 

"Since the current health crisis affected everyone, the IRM is not solely intended for COVID-19 treatment but for all health care services such as dialysis, chemotherapy and maternity benefits, among many others," Malate also said in his statement. 

"The release of IRM funds in the region were made accordingly to facilities who have applied and passed all requirements, taking into great consideration that all ailing Filipinos needing PhilHealth benefits, COVID or not, are continuously served during these challenging times."

— Franco Luna

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