PhilHealth Davao Region debunks playing favorites on IRM claims

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DAVAO CITY — The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth-11) in Davao Region debunked on Thursday claims that they are playing favorites in the disbursement of the Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM) fund.

Dr. Hector Zernon Leonardo Malate, PhilHealth-11 acting regional vice-president, said all IRM releases are governed by “existing rules and regulations on the provision of IRM funds” by the corporation.

Malate issued the statement following claims by Manila-based journalist Maria Ressa in her twitter account, alluding that the government’s insurance agency favored a “Davao Hospital” and provided the bigger allocation of IRM funds compared to the Philippine General Hospital (PGH).

Ressa was referring to the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC), which according to PhilHealth-11, received the highest amount of IRM funds totaling PHP325 million since it is the largest government hospital in the country, catering to patient-referrals from all other regions in Mindanao.

But Ressa is not aware that SPMC officially became the largest hospital in the Philippines after it was authorized to expand its capacity to 1,500 beds when the Republic Act No 11326 was approved on April 17, 2019, surpassing that of the Philippine General Hospital’s 1,334 beds. The actual capacity of the hospital as of April 2019 is 1,453 beds,

SPMC is catering to patients from all over Mindanao and it is serving as one of the centers for the treatment coronavirus disease (Covid-19) on the island.

“We would 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,” Malate said.

He clarified that the IRM amount released to SPMC was based on the hospital’s 90-day annual historical benefit claim.

“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,” Malate added.

Further, he added that the IRM fund is not solely for Covid-19 treatment but all health care services such as dialysis, chemotherapy, and maternity benefits, among many others.

“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,” Malate said. -with PNA report

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