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Manila hospitals face penalties over deposit demands
By Manolo B. Jara August 07, 2017
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MANILA: President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte signed a law imposing stiffer penalties including closure and heavy fines on hospitals driving away especially poor patients in emergency cases, who cannot not pay first their demands for payment of deposits.

The law, sponsored by Senator Riza Hontiveros, penalises a hospital or clinic to demand any deposit or any other form of advance payment as a pre-requisite for administering basic emergency care to any patient including pregnant women.

The same penalty applies to hospitals that refuse to administer medical treatment and support as “dictated by good practice to prevent death or permanent disability.”

Three confirmed violations by any hospital or clinic could lead to the revocation of the licence of the hospital or clinic by the Department of Health, according to the law.

In addition, the law imposes a fine of a minimum $20,000 or more for the officers and staff of the erring hospital, which proponents pointed out would help end the rampant practice of shooing away especially poor patients who could not pay the deposits.

Not only that. The law also holds liable any hospital or clinic as well as their officers and staff violating its provisions that result in the death, permanent disability, serious impairment of the health condition of a patient like a pregnant woman or the loss of her unborn child.

By banning the “no-deposit” policy, the law provides that the state-run Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) is to reimburse the cost of basic emergency care and transportation services of the hospital concerned for the poor.

Aside from PhilHealth, the law mandates the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCS0) to “provide medical assistance for the basic emergency care needs of the poor and indigent patients.”

The PCSO is the state-operated agency that runs the lucrative online lotto patronised by majority of the 100 million Filipinos in the hope that by winning, they would become “instant millionaires.”

Dr Rustico Jimenez, the president of the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines (PHAP), protested the signing of the law, claiming their members were not consulted.

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