Senator Risa Hontiveros has backed the call of advocacy groups urging the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to increase the free dialysis coverage for all patients while the country is still in a state of emergency.

Hontiveros said the agency should upgrade its benefit package from 90 free dialysis sessions to 144 while the country suffers from the pandemic because of the “unjust” burden it puts on Filipinos.

The veteran legislator stressed that the coverage should also include personal protective equipment (PPEs), the COVID-19 testing required before their sessions, as well as other supply costs being passed on to patients.

“P12,000 weekly for dialysis sessions, not including transportation, medicine, food, and other daily needs of their family. Ngayon hindi sila maka-access ng life-saving dialysis nila dahil puno na ang mga ospital. Karamihan ay nawalan pa ng trabaho, parang wala ng natitira sa kanila. This is a nightmare beyond comprehension,” the seasoned lawmaker added.

“Hindi lang COVID ang pumapatay sa mga Pilipino ngayon.”

“I ask PhilHealth to consider the full horror story of hospitals these days while improving their policies. Hindi lang COVID ang pumapatay sa mga Pilipino ngayon. Marami sa mga kababayan natin ang naiiwan, at sa tuluyan, ay namamatay dahil puno na ang mga ospital,” the lady senator stressed.

According to her, advocates from Dialysis PH, a support group for dialysis patients, said that they were forced onto waitlists because the few hospitals that offered dialysis services were already overflowing with patients.

It is even more difficult, they said, that dialysis centers shut down completely when the staff needs to quarantine or turn the patients away when they exhibit COVID-19 symptoms.

“Marami ang pumapanaw habang nasa waitlist. Hindi sila makakahintay dahil lifeline nila ang mga treatments na ito. These deaths, although not included in the numbers reported, are also caused by the circumstances exacerbated by the pandemic,” Hontiveros said.

“That is why we have to help as many people as we can by judiciously updating our policies and programs to meet the urgent needs of all Filipinos,” she added.

Hontiveros also said she will file a bill when session resumes to permanently increase the free dialysis sessions covered by PhilHealth to 144 sessions to ‘help ease the burden’ while waiting for an organ donor match.

She said she will be sure to remember these issues during the upcoming budget deliberations at the Senate.

“The price of our wrong priorities is too steep to pay.”

“Oportunidad talaga ito para patibayin ang ating health care system. Nararamdaman na natin ang mga epekto ng pagkaltas ng budget mula sa Health Department sa gitna ng health crisis. Sana matuto tayo para sa next budget season because the price of our wrong priorities is too steep to pay,” Hontiveros said.

“Ang mga dialysis patients mismo ang nagsabi, parang ginagawa silang sacrificial lambs. Dapat lahat makabangon sa pandemyang ito. No one should get left behind by our pandemic response,” she concluded.


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