By Argyll Cyrus Geducos, August 18, 2021; Manila Bulletin

The Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) has asked PhilHealth to be “more aggressive” in finding solutions to their connectivity issues to address the pending applications for coronavirus-related claims.

ARTA Director-General Jeremiah Belgica made the appeal after the agency received complaints from private hospitals that are having difficulty in securing their COVID-19-related claims from PhilHealth.

In a meeting with the private sector, Belgica advised PhilHealth officials to be aggressive in finding solutions for their concerns to improve their services quicker.

“Kailangan matapos natin yung backlogs natin. Medyo madami, nakita ko kanina, ang dami pala (We need to finish our backlogs. I noticed earlier that there were plenty),” he said.

“We’re all here to find solutions and fight this together so we can solve this in the quickest way possible,” he added.

PhilHealth Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer Arturo Alcantara said subscribing to another internet provider would help them continue working if the one they are currently using breaks down.

He also complained of the corporation’s low cloud storage.

ARTA has tapped the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to explore connectivity solutions to help PhilHealth address the situation.

DICT Undersecretary for Emerging Technologies Arnold Atienza pledged to assist PhilHealth with its connectivity problems.

Apart from its IT problems, PhilHealth also cited the pandemic as one of its reasons for the delays in their processing of claims, which they aim to address by mobilizing more staff.

PhilHealth is set to present the streamlined process of the Pre-Payment Medical Evaluation, including all the requirements, in its next meetings with ARTA.

In August 2020, the Senate prepared to launch an investigation on PhilHealth’s unpaid claims as reported by the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines (PHAP). The report revealed that only P6.3 billion of the P28 billion worth of unpaid claims, which covered the period of March to December 2020 from about 700 hospitals, was released.

The State insurer said the P6.3 billion was released through a debit-credit card method to hospitals in COVID-19 critical areas as identified by the government’s pandemic task force.

It claimed that the discrepancy between the paid and unreleased claims may be caused by differences in the accounting treatments.