‘Baseless’: PhilHealth denies UST Hospital’s allegation that it owes them PHP180 million

University of Santo Tomas Hospital. Photo: Ramon Vasquez/Wikipedia
University of Santo Tomas Hospital. Photo: Ramon Vasquez/Wikipedia

The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) yesterday denied the allegation made by the University of Santo Tomas Hospital (USTH) that the state insurer owes the latter PHP180 million (US$3.561 million) in unpaid fees.

USTH said this when it announced on Sunday that it was laying off its workers due to massive losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and said that PhilHealth’s failure to pay them played a major factor. USTH Medical Director Dr. Marcellus Francis Ramirez also added that some recovered COVID-19 patients were discharged despite failing to settle their bills.

In an interview with radio station DZMM, PhilHealth President Ricardo Morales described USTH’s allegation as “baseless.”

“You know, I don’t know where they got that PHP180 million [debt],” he said in English and Filipino. “Because for the past five years since 2015, we pay UST an average of PHP400 million (US$7.914 million) a year. As a matter of fact, last year, we already paid more than PHP300 million (US$5.935 million), and then this year, on April 18, we paid them an advance of PHP85 million (US$1.681 million) because of the COVID [pandemic]. So, I don’t know where they got that PHP180 million [debt] that they were talking about.”

Read: Manila hospital lays off workers due to COVID-19 losses, says gov’t insurer owes it millions

“If there is a beneficiary, they can’t just submit a billing without us checking it. It’s normal for us to have account receivables but not as high as PHP180 million. I asked our financial managers to check that, we couldn’t find what UST is claiming, this PHP180 million [debt],” Morales added.

Meanwhile, USTH announced yesterday in a statement that it is postponing its planned layoff because it needs to be discussed first by its Board of Trustees.

“In the midst of COVID-19, the University of Santo Tomas is one with the nation in its hope and prayer that we shall overcome this global pandemic,” said Associate Professor Giovanna Fontanilla, the director of the UST Office of Public Affairs.

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