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Ex-GSIS chief slams docâs fee hike amid pandemic
ormer Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) president Garcia was referring to the Philippine College of Physicians’ advisory on a 50 percent increase in PF.
STAR/File

Ex-GSIS chief slams doc’s fee hike amid pandemic

Caecent No-ot Magsumbol (The Freeman) - July 5, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Former Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) president Winston Garcia drew flak on social media for criticizing the increase in professional fee (PF) of doctors.

The increase, Garcia said, is not only bad timing but also cruel and insensitive.

“I am very disheartened by this advisory as it is not only bad timing but cruel and insensitive having been issued in the midst of tremendous sufferings by our fellow Filipinos,” he said.

Garcia was referring to the Philippine College of Physicians’ advisory on a 50 percent increase in PF.

PCP, an umbrella organization of internists in the Philippines and was organized in 1953, has authorized the Association of Health Maintenance Organizations of the Philippines, Inc. (AHMOPI) and the Philippine Association of Health Maintenance Organization Companies (PAHMOC) to collect higher fees from June 1 to September 1, and May 25 to August 25, respectively.

In the advisory, PCP indicated the PF rates for the out-patient face-to-face consultation fee (P400 to P600) and for the in-patient daily visit which now ranges from P900 to P2,100, quite higher from the usual P600 to P1,400.

“These PF rates apply to COVID and non-COVID cases,” the advisory read.

PCP said the increase may be extended until the state of public health emergency is lifted.

But the increase did not sit well with Garcia.

 “It seems it is only the medical community who are thriving in this crisis.”

“Look at how hospitals and their doctors have been overcharging poor and hapless patients with exorbitant medical exams and fees under the guise of protection against the coronavirus,” he said in a Facebook post Friday.

Doctor Bernard Chiew said doctors felt maligned and misunderstood by Garcia.

“Nice try maligning the doctors, Winston Garcia,” Chiew in a Facebook post.

Chiew explained that AHMOPI and PAHMOC are health insurance companies, which are third party payors for health services availed of by their patient-members.

As health maintenance organization (HMO) members, Chiew said, patients do not pay the professional fees of doctors.

“In their official letters to PCP, both HMO Organizations recognized the risks and the additional expense doctors had to incur for their PPE (personal protective equipment) when managing patients. As their way of showing support to the PCP, they increased the professional fee rates.”

“Hence, the PCP advisory to the doctor-members. Is it an additional burden to the patients? Obviously, not. The patients do not pay the professional fees of doctors. It’s the HMOs,” said Chiew.

Chiew and the rest felt that Garcia’s post has a malicious intent to deliberately mislead everyone and that the latter do not have the moral authority to lecture them.

Garcia did not let it slip away, but said, he will not go low in answering personal attacks.

“But let me just answer their defense for the increase of doctor’s fees and hospital bills during the COVID crisis, particularly the post of Dr. Bernard Chiew which is steaming with anger and insults. I believe these doctors are entirely missing the whole point.  Being in the forefront in the fight against the coronavirus never justifies one or even an institution to profit from it.” Garcia said in another Facebook post yesterday.

“I hope they will have the sympathy to watch the desperate faces of people losing their businesses, their jobs or their very means of livelihood. I fervently hope they will temper their greed and for once, be true to their Hippocratic oath,” he added. KQD (FREEMAN)

GSIS WINSTON GARCIA
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