Davao City hospital gets biggest chunk of PhilHealth reimbursement for COVID-19 treatment

Bonz Magsambol

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Davao City hospital gets biggest chunk of PhilHealth reimbursement for COVID-19 treatment
(UPDATED) Southern Philippines Medical Center got P326 million, followed by the Philippine General Hospital in coronavirus epicenter Metro Manila with P263.3 million

The Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) in Davao City received the biggest amount of compensation under the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation’s (PhilHealth) Internal Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM) for the treatment of coronavirus patients.

PhilHealth legal counsel Roberto Labe Jr said this during a presentation at the Senate investigation into alleged corruption in the agency on Tuesday, August 11.

The top 10 hospitals that received IRM are the following:

  1. Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City, P326 million
  2. Philippine General Hospital in Manila, P263.3 million
  3. Davao Regional Medical Center in Tagum City, P209 million
  4. Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City, P204 million
  5. Jose B. Lingad Memorial Regional Hospital in San Fernando, Pampanga, P201 million
  6. National Kidney and Transplant Institute in Quezon City, P179 million
  7. Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, P165 million
  8. Northern Mindanao Medical Center in Cagayan de Oro, P150.2 million
  9. Quirino Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City, P150 million
  10. Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center in Tacloban City, P146.2 million

SPMC, the biggest government hospital in Mindanao, is located in Davao City, the hometown of President Rodrigo Duterte. SPMC was headed by Leopoldo Vega from 2008 until Duterte appointed him as health undersecretary in June 2020.

Duterte had also designated Vega as the country’s COVID-19 “treatment czar” on July 13.

The IRM is a program that advances the reimbursement of members’ insurance claims to hospitals and clinics directly hit by “fortuitous events,” supposedly cutting the long queue and tedious bureaucratic process. It was one of the controversial items that came out of the Senate probe.

Under the IRM program, the state insurer said that its regional offices were given the flexibility in processing liquidations recognizing the situations in hospitals amid the pandemic. 

Labe said during the Senate hearing that a total of P14.971 billion had been released to a total of 711 healthcare facilities.

The following are the top 5 regions that received the biggest amount of IRM based on Labe’s presentation:

  1. National Capital Region – 29.08% or P4.35 billion
  2. Central Luzon – 13.07% or P1.96 billion
  3. Calabarzon – 8.34% or P1.35 billion
  4. Central Visayas – 7.36% or P1.13 billion
  5. Davao Region – 5.95% or P891 million

Resigned anti-fraud officer Thorrsson Montes Keith had claimed in a Senate inquiry on August 4 that the IRM is among the source of alleged corruption in PhilHealth. (READ: PhilHealth execs misspent, stole P15 billion, says resigned anti-fraud official)

PhilHealth earlier said that the amount was disbursed to the healthcare facilities to “assure efficient response to the COVID-19 pandemic.” It had also said that “there has never been favoritism in the release of these funds as earlier alleged; rather the releases followed existing guidelines.”

During Tuesday’s Senate probe, Labe denied the allegations of corruption in the IRM. “All the releases have been provided with receipts. IRM was not pocketed by anyone as alleged,” he said.

Senators on Tuesday questioned the legal justification for using the IRM, particularly to cover COVID-19 cases.

According to the latest Department of Health data, here are the top regions in the Philippines with the highest recorded cases of COVID-19 as of August 10:

  1. National Capital Region – 75,399
  2. Central Visayas – 17,653
  3. Calabarzon – 17,243
  4. Central Luzon – 4,072
  5. Western Visayas – 2,158

Davao region is at number 6 with 1,568 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of August 10. Davao City has 1,009 cases, of which 236 are active cases. There have been 45 deaths in the city.

As of Tuesday, the Philippines recorded 139,538 case of COVID-19, including 2,312 deaths and 68,432 recoveries. –

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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler.