Doctor, lawyer, professor, author, and former President of the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) Leo Olarte, in a meeting last April 20, 2022, decried the poor legislative response of the Philippine Senate to the country’s number one health problem, which is the COVID-19, all because there are no virologists, doctors, or health experts serving as lawmakers that can offer a cure to the country’s infirmed healthcare system.
Running under Bigkis Pinoy, Olarte stressed that this COVID-19 public health issue causing death to thousand and its economic devastation causing joblessness to millions is the number one reason why he was persuaded and compelled to put himself in the political arena.
Olarte lamented that the members of the Senate are always fault-finding and battering the Department of Health (DOH) despite COVID-19 as a new viral disease and has never been studied in medical school before, instead of giving the exact budget for the purchase of necessary equipment like the PPEs, facemasks, among others, resulting in the delay of payments to COVID-19 related expenses. The meeting was attended by Councilor Wilson Gamboa, Jr., Independent Candidates Christian Weber, Jiffy Jauod, Walter Hermosura, PDP CARES#8 Party List Campaign Manager for Negros Marte Lyndon Gonzales, Bert Cabalfin of RPN-DYKB and Negros Daily Bulletin covering the event, where Olarte interacted with them on their election preparations and other various issues.
Olarte explained that the absence of doctors in the legislative process “fertilized” the malpractices hounding the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) now, citing the uncollected amount of P86 for doctors and hospitals leading to the closure or bankruptcy of the said hospitals, especially in remote areas.
PhilHealth, instead of paying promptly, filed cases of fraud instead to sheer typographical errors in the documentary requirements of patients to delay payments further, of which Olarte said, these provisions of the law turned PhilHealth into a “complainant, prosecutor and judge all at the same time” must be removed.
Bacolod’s lone opposition Councilor Gamboa, meantime, reiterated that as early as December 28, 2021 had urged PhilHealth to “promptly release funds to unpaid legitimate and good claims of accredited private and public health care providers.”
According to Gamboa, this stemmed from the looming danger that the delay of payments on LEGITIMATE claims could cause the breakdown of the Bacolod City healthcare systems due to lack of funds and that the hospitals’ threats to disengage from PhilHealth for non-payment of legitimate claims will derail the provisions of RA 11223 or the Universal Health Care Act which gives health care access to the people of Bacolod City and over 100 million Filipinos nationwide.
Also, Gonzales of PDP CARES said that the Philippine healthcare system must be supportive of all health sector stakeholders especially their rights to healthy lives, and the prioritization of their compensation to perform effectively otherwise they will look for greener pastures in other countries.
Olarte also lamented that RA 11223 which is anchored on PhilHealth diverts money to the local government units (LGUs) rather than to healthcare workers; requires patients to pass through the triage of General Practitioners (GP) therefore delaying prompt and effective treatments, leading to more expenses; encourage doctors into the practice of GP which is detrimental to the quality of healthcare, and encourage the practice of “defensive medicine” where doctors focus more on fear of malpractices complaints fertilized by this R.A. 11223 rather than the welfare of their patients.
He added that PhilHealth’s empowerment and vested power to question and regulate the doctors and hospitals’ “standard of medical care” when the patient is cured, improved, discharged, with no complaints, must be removed; PhilHealth must only be an insurance agency.
Olarte stressed that all these pieces of legislation were passed by non-doctors and existed because there are no doctors in the Philippine Congress.* (GABS/Photos: JGT)