Dialysis facility of Benguet General Hospital (File photo)

MANILA – Senators are hoping for the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to implement soon its planned hemodialysis coverage expansion from 90 to 156 sessions.

Senator Christopher Lawrence Go on Friday urged PhilHealth to use its funds to help more poor Filipinos pay for hemodialysis sessions.

"Kung maaari, to the minimum na po ang babayaran nila. Kung maaari nga, eh libre. Ako po ay nananawagan sa PhilHealth na gawin pong mas mataas yung free dialysis sessions para sa mga mahihirap (If possible, they will pay the minimum. If possible, make it free. I am calling for PhilHealth to increase the free dialysis sessions for the poor)," Go told reporters in an interview at Barangay Marilag, Quezon City.

Go, who chairs the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, vowed to monitor the implementation of the free dialysis program of PhilHealth.

Welcoming PhilHealth's pronouncement, Senate Deputy Minority Leader Risa Hontiveros hopes it can release the policy guidelines soon.

"Taun-taon nating pinapanawagan ang expansion at taun-taon din ay nakakarinig tayo ng maraming reklamo mula sa mga dialysis patients (Every year, we call for the expansion and every year we also hear a lot of complaints from dialysis patients). We hope that PhilHealth will move decisively towards the institutionalization of this benefit program and address most of its implementation issues," Hontiveros said in a statement.

She hopes PhilHealth can implement its programs without legislations to give it the flexibility in designing its programs and benefits to fully implement the Universal Healthcare Law.

"Nitong nagdaang taon, napakita ng PhilHealth na kaya nila mag-expand ng kanilang benefits, even without legislation. Umaasa tayo na pagtutulungan ng [Department of Health] DOH at PhilHealth na mas lalo pang paliitin ang out of pocket expenses ng ating mga dialysis patients at pag-aralang ma-cover sa medical assistance program ang mga gamot at iba pa (Last year, PhilHealth showed it can expand its benefits without legislation. We are hoping together with the DOH, they can further reduce the out of pocket expenses of our dialysis patients and study the possibility of covering in its medical assistance program the needed medicines, among others)," Hontiveros added.

In a recent media forum, PhilHealth president and Chief Executive Officer Emmanuel Ledesma Jr. said the plan is part of their commitment to implement enhancements in the benefit packages for 2023.

“This increase in the number of sessions covered is based on standards for adequate dialysis which requires three four-hour sessions every week for chronic kidney disease Stage 5 patients,” Ledesma said.

PhilHealth Senior Vice President Israel Francis Pargas disclosed that they are targeting to issue the new policy officially before August as the current 90 sessions may end on around that month or the second semester of the year.

“So, we have the time until the second sem to make sure na ‘yung 156 mailabas natin (that we can release the 156 [sessions]),” he said. “We hope that by this first or second sem, we can already come out with the policy.” (PNA)