Politics mars medical aid of Iloilo capitol-run hospitals

By: Gerome Dalipe

STATE auditors slammed some provincial hospitals in Iloilo for extending medical assistance to indigent patients without the approval of the hospital chiefs.

The Commission on Audit (COA), in its annual report, lamented that some qualified patients of the provincial hospitals were deprived of the medical aid since endorsements reportedly came from politicians.

The medical assistance program under the Department of Health (DOH) was determined not impartially compliant with the guidelines provided in the DOH Administrative Order 2017-003.

The medical aid extended to the indigents “showed signs of political influence that may deprive other qualified indigent patients to avail of the benefit,” the auditors said.

DOH Administrative Order 2017-0003 provides for the fund administration and authorization.

Medical assistance to a patient shall be based on need as recommended by the medical social worker attending physician approved by the hospital chiefs.

The allowable amount subject to the approving authority of the hospital chief is up to P250,000 per patient.

Pursuant to the administrative order, the Social Welfare Office determines the category of financial capability of the patient and decides on the amount of medical assistance she will receive.

A certification of indigency will be issued by the Municipal Social Welfare Offices or from the hospital chiefs.

As part of their internal policy, the amount extended to indigent patients does not exceed P5,000.

Unfortunately, some district hospitals required the approval of certain political figures or their representative before assistance may be granted.

Likewise, they required guarantee letter or similar documents affixing the signature of political figures or his representative for the corresponding assistance to be granted.

“The existing hospital’s practice showed laxity and absence of control, exposing the hospital to the risk that independent and objective identification and grant of medical aid program,” read the COA report.

Likewise, the auditors reminded the Human Resources Office not to intervene on the grant of medical aid since the DOH did not authorize him to grant the program.

Instead, the human resource officer should ensure that all district hospitals were complying with the provisions of the DOH administrative order.

The medical assistance aid “was not sourced from any politician” but from the DOH budget in the General Appropriation Act for the needy and indigent individuals.

“Independent and objective assessment and evaluation of the patients or clients should be made prior to the recommendation of the amount to be extended,” read the COA report.

The hospital chiefs, having the primary responsibility and accountability in the financial administration and operation of the hospitals, should ensure that applicable laws, rules and regulation are properly carried out, the auditors said.

“The inefficiency of program implementation and non-compliance with the existing guidelines are his accountability, thus he can be held liable for any deficiencies that may be discovered,” the auditors said.