Ambulances for official use only, PCSO reminds LGUs

MANILA -- The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), through its Charity Assistance Department, clarified the issues regarding the ambulance donation program to local government units and other institutional partners.

Dr. Larry Cedro, Assistant General Manager for Charity Sector, said the donation, the responsibility on the use of ambulance and its maintenance automatically goes to the beneficiaries as part of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between PCSO and the local government units.

Cedro clarified that under the MOA, beneficiaries are responsible in making sure that the vehicle is in good condition and that it is readily available for use by their constituents.

The clarification comes amid complaints claiming that PCSO-donated ambulances are being used by government officials for personal purposes and that during emergency situations patients shoulder the gasoline expenses for these vehicles.

Regarding to the ambulance misuse, the beneficiaries of the said program were also informed about the PCSO's monitoring system. Once the agency has established a violation on the use of the vehicle, it can readily be forfeited.

PCSO reiterated the public to report claims of unauthorized use or misuse of ambulances.

We do not have to remind them [local government officials] every now and then how to maintain it because prior to the turnover, the MOA already contains the briefer, rules and regulations being imposed by the agency regarding its utilization, Cedro said in a statement over the weekend.

The PCSO also has a new program for ambulance donation which shifts its priority from ordinary ambulance to an advanced life support.

In compliance with the new Department of Health (DOH) circular shifting from ambulance to patient-transport vehicle, the agency issued a new administrative order to regulate the use and registration of vehicles as an ambulance.

DOH has observed that both the PCSO as a national government agency and the local government units purchase ambulances left and right and yet the dilemma remains the same [misuse, unauthorized used, no gas, etc.), Cedro said.

In response to repeated queries and misconceptions that PCSO reimburses cash payments made by patients, families, or relatives to the hospital, Cedro reiterated that it does not allow reimbursements of any kind.

'Yung programa ng PCSO, may sinusunod tayong panuntunan. Base sa aming programa, bawal ang reimbursement. Ini-encourage namin ang lahat na mag-file ng kanilang [financial/medical] assistance (request) prior to discharge. Dapat may final bill na isusumite sa amin tapos i-a-assess ng social worker (Under the PCSO program, we have guidelines to follow. Based on our program, reimbursement is not allowed. We encourage them to file their financial/medical assistance request prior to discharge. The final bill must be submitted to us and it will be assessed by a social worker) who will determine the appropriate amount, depending on the status of the patient, Cedro explained.

After assessment, PCSO will issue a guarantee letter (GL) to the hospital or partner health facility, which assumes the obligation of a specific amount due to the client for the services rendered.

Depending on the patient's classification, if he is classified as F and the patient is admitted in the charity ward of a government hospital, the patient is entitled to receive 100 percent of his medical expense.

In a private charity ward, a patient can receive a maximum of 70 percent, and in private hospital, the subsidy is not going to exceed 60 percent.

For chemo and radiation therapies, we have a scheme. We enroll the patient to the program briefly. If the patient needs six cycles, we can cover 50 percent of that requirement or three cycles. For rehabilitation, we require quotation, Cedro said.

At present, there are 58 At-Source-Ang-Processing (ASAP) Desks in partner hospitals and facilities, and 63 PCSO branches where patients, relatives, and families can directly seek financial assistance without the need to go to the main office or Lung Center of the Philippines.

The Individual Medical Assistance Program (IMAP) of PCSO attends to the financial needs of all individuals with health-related problems through the provision of financial assistance. Patients must submit a letter of request, medical abstract, and final hospital bill.

If you pay it using your personal loans or credit cards, we will treat it as a settled case. Remember, we are using public funds and PCSO is accountable for that. Our basic requirement is no reimbursement is allowed, PCSO General Manager Alexander Balutan said, who recently disclosed the PHP15.9 billion earnings from the various lottery games for the first quarter of the year.

For the first quarter, we have 120,356 IMAP beneficiaries, a 34.09 percent increase from the same period last year. The agency also spent P2.35 billion for IMAP assistance, a 39.96 percent increase from the same period last year, said Balutan. (With reports from Red Andador-OJT/PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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