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Bayona: Tuguegarao hospital’s PhilHealth scam a ‘wake-up’ call

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TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines- This city’s acting vice mayor Jude Bayona said the recent controversy of ghost PhilHealth benefit claims in Tuguegarao City People’s General Hospital (TCPGH) is a wake-up call for the city government and hospital administration to improve its system and services.

In an interview, Bayona said the legislative inquiries they had in the third week of March will be their basis in their recommendations to improve the system of the hospital in order to prevent the anomalies that had already allegedly cost the PhilHealth approximately P6 million.

“This is really a wake-up call for the TCGPH to improve their basic service para kung ganun maiwasan na ito,” Bayona said.

The vice mayor said they will recommend the hospital to assure that all the medicines prescribed to the patients will be available at the hospital pharmacy so the PhilHealth will only pay “directly” to the hospital, and not through reimbursement of patients.

Bayona said they will also make changes in the internal controls of TCPGH, specifically on what allowed the scam to happen. He said a logbook of admitted patients should be included in the processing of benefits claims.

“We will also convene the administration of TCPGH to design a more reliable flow, yung flow or the system from the admission of the patient to the emergency room down to the confinement to the discharge, we will monitor that. We will design a very efficient and effective system of the operation of the hospital,” he added.

Asked if what allowed the scam to happen, Bayona admitted the hospital could have prevented the anomaly if not of “too much trust and confidence.”

“Yung ginawa kasi nila eh, it is a team eh… Pero kung very vigilant din itong hospital to check, or validate kung talagang nandun ba yung patient, ay masasabi ko na kung talagang very vigilant at medyo assertive ang hospital administration, maaaring hindi rin lulusot ito,” he said.

He also added that the hospital employees and doctors were no beingt “strict” and precautious in signing the PhilHealth claim forms, thus allowed the scam to prosper for years.

Bayona also said that the hiring of Marites Attaban, the alleged mastermind of the scam, is a “lesson learned,” adding that they will have to check already the previous records of future job applicants.

Earlier, the city council had two sessions of legislative inquiry in aid of legislation “to shed light on what had happened on what really happened on the PhilHealth controversy.”

Bayona said all the resource persons and other persons of interests they invited attended, except a certain Dr. Christopher Ian Cabalza, who is said to had signed most of the documents of ghost patients in 2016.

Re-accreditation, filing of charges

Bayona said they are now prioritizing the PhilHealth re-accreditation of TCPGH in order to cater the needs of poor patients.

“We hope that the PhilHealth will reaccredit us. That is one of the purposes of the legislative inquiries aside from later on, running after to those who were involved in the scam,” Bayona told Forum.

“Pero ang city government ay mas nakatutok kami ngayon sa reconsideration of our appeal. We are praying very hard..that the Tuguegarao City People’s General Hospital will be reaccredited,” Bayona added.

Bayona, acting as the chairman of the Committee of the Whole and the Committee on Health, said he already convened the city council and discussed the data and facts they gathered and see if they will recommend for the suspension of those involved in the scam.

He also said that they will be seeking the help of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for a “more thorough and extensive” investigation.

“If we will establish a probable cause, we will recommend for the suspension of those involved, kung nagkaroon man sila ng negligence in their position, we will suspend them. And in case, nagkaroon man ng criminal act sa part nila, we will recommend to the city legal office to file criminal cases against these people involved in the scam,” he said. TNF

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