Health group says profiteering behind hike in hospital rates
Manila, Philippines- Profit, not the Cheaper Medicine Law, is the real reason for the impending increase in hospital rates by private hospitals. This is according to a nationwide organization of doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, and hospital workers.
In a press statement, a copy of which was obtained by The Pamalakaya Times, the Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) belied claims made by the Private Hospital Association of the Philippines (PHAP) that private hospitals are losing money due to the imposition of drug price control, thereby “forcing” them to raise their fees.
“The Maximum Retail Price (under Executive Order 821) covers only 5 drugs, with the other 16 under ‘voluntary’ price reduction,” said Dr. Geneve Rivera, HEAD secretary-general. “The general public has not even felt the impact of this measure two months after its implementation, so how can private hospitals say that they are already feeling the crunch?”
Moreover, most of the drugs under the MRP are out-patient medicine and not drugs used by in-patients or those confined in hospitals. “The onus is on PHAP to substantiate its claims by citing which drugs and how these have supposedly put them in the red.” Dr. Rivera declared.
On the other hand, it seems that private hospitals may have been eyeing to raise their fees all along and is simply using the MRP as a convenient excuse. Worse, according to HEAD, private hospitals seem to have taken their cue from the national government itself.
“Over the last few years, public hospitals have imposed user-fees for services that were previously for free, and have been steadily increasing these rates in hospitals where they are already being implemented,” added Dr. Rivera. “This is to augment their grossly inadequate budget allocation by the Arroyo administration.”
The message therefore to private hospitals is this: if government hospitals can do it, why can’t we?
In addition, the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation raised its benefits ceiling by 35% early this year. This, despite previous warnings that doing so without any prior agreement regarding hospital rates will only entice private hospitals to raise their fees, so that they can capture the additional PhilHealth funds.
“This is exactly what private hospitals want to capitalize on now. This is exactly what happens when healthcare is treated as a business rather than as a service, that profit becomes primary over human life.”
“This is exactly what will happen as the Arroyo government hands over healthcare to the private sector. The poor Filipino patient will be caught between private hospitals that are too greedy to care and a government that is too negligent to give a damn.”####