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BIZ BUZZ: Hospital woes

04:03 AM August 23, 2021

Hospital operators are up in arms anew over Philippine Health Insurance Corp.’s (Philhealth) announcement that it would suspend payment of claims that are being investigated for possible fraudulent, unethical acts and abuse of authority.

The Philippine Hospital Association, the largest hospital group with 1,981 members from both private and government hospitals, is convening emergency meetings to tackle the order, which is feared to affect many health-care providers to the detriment of the public.

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There are an estimated 7,000 cases filed against 1,800 hospitals, which means most of the operators won’t be qualified for Philhealth accreditation next year.

An official likened the industry to an “injured and cornered animal”—one without any room to retreat to and thus has no choice but to fight back.

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Though widely seen as heroes at the front line of the battle against the pandemic, the official said in a message blast to members that Philhealth had made the industry a martyr instead, as hospitals are still expected to continue extending credit to Philhealth despite the suspension of payment of claims. This was cited as a “crime against humanity,” since it will cut off the financial bloodline of hospitals in the midst of a raging pandemic.

For its part, Philhealth noted that the policy had been in place since 2016, only that provisions to ensure due process had been added. It assured stakeholders that the latest order would only affect providers that had been tainted with fraudulent acts, while “good” claims won’t be affected.In a precarious situation where the real enemy is COVID-19, any conflict between health-care providers and regulators, or any of their agents, is never good.

—Doris Dumlao-Abadilla

Feather in Clark’s cap

The best airports need to be more than functional, they should also look great and adhere to environment-friendly practices and design.

For this, there is the prestigious Prix Versailles Architecture and Design Awards. They do have an airport category which includes as finalist the new passenger terminal at the Clark International Airport in Pampanga. The selection was meant to “pay tribute to the qualities of innovation, creativity, reflection of local, natural and cultural heritage, and ecological efficiency, as well as the values of social interaction and participation which the United Nations holds in high regard.” The Clark Airport terminal, built by the venture of Megawide Construction Corp. and India’s GMR Infrastructure, joins other finalists Berlin Brandenburg Airport Willy Brandt, Athens International Airport, South Wing Hazrat Sultan International Airport, New Plymouth Airport and LaGuardia Airport, Terminal B. The winners will be announced in a ceremony to be held in Paris, France, later this year. Clark Airport, which would at least double passenger capacity at the Central Luzon gateway, is now operated by the Gokongwei, Gotianun and Changi venture via Luzon International Premiere Airport Development Corp. or Lipad.

—Miguel R. Camus

Centennial stamps

Snail mail may no longer be the in-thing in the age of e-mail and messaging apps. However, stamps still do exist and remain a collector’s item.

In commemoration of China Bank’s centennial in 2020, the Philippine Postal Corp. has released special postage stamps featuring the bank’s heritage building in Binondo, Manila.

Built in 1924, the building was recognized by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines and the National Museum with historical markers. The latter also declared it an important cultural property. Only 30,000 pieces of the limited-edition commemorative stamps were printed in P12 denomination.

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For those on China Bank’s Christmas list, expect the stamps to be part of the corporate gifts at year-end.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic which caused some delays due to the quarantine restrictions, the China Bank building in Binondo is now almost fully restored. To recall, restoration works began in 2019 as the centerpiece of the centennial celebration in 2020. It is also the bank’s contribution to urban renewal at the country’s capital city. “A true restoration that not only sought to restore the building to its original architecture, but to also make it more resilient and energy efficient, the project is on track to be completed by the end of the year,” the bank said.

—Doris Dumlao-Abadilla INQ

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