Last Tuesday (Aug. 26), the Department of National Defense (DND) inked a memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with the Department of Health (DoH) to revitalize the Veterans Hospitalization Program (VHP) that will benefit about half a million beneficiaries nationwide
Defense Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin and Health Secretary Enrique T. Ona signed the agreement.
Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) Administrator Ernesto G. Carolina said the renewed agreement seeks to make the implementation of the VHP in all hospitals under the DOH nationwide.
The VHP is a program that extends hospitalization and medical care benefits to Filipino veterans and their dependents nationwide in hospitals that are accredited by PVAO and the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC). It provides partial hospital subsidy of P1,200 per day of hospital confinement net of other applicable discounts up to a maximum of 45 days per patient per year to be reimbursed by PVAO-VMMC to the accredited hospitals.
It also gives partial reimbursement of certain select procedures and additional benefits such as cataract surgery, cardiac procedures such as angiogram, angioplasty, pace-maker placement and heart by-pass; endoaneurysmectomy, and chemotherapeutic agents. In addition, partial reimbursement may also be given to veterans and dependents that need hearing aid, hernia mesh, orthopedic implants and braces and dentures.
Based on PVAO statistics, as of August 2014, there are 36,281 living World War II and Post-War veterans and an estimated 140,000 legal dependents who are entitled to avail of hospitalization and health care benefits from the government.
The VHP is seen as an immediate and temporary solution to the concerns of veterans and their families, especially those who are residing in remote provinces who have no convenient access to the VMMC, the only veterans hospital in the country that is located in Quezon City. It is being implemented in partnership with 70 hospitals under the DOH and 531 government hospitals under the local government units.
At present, select private tertiary hospitals have also been selected to give veterans and their dependents more choices.
Ona has appealed for the inclusion of living World War II veterans and surviving spouses as beneficiaries in DOH’s Universal Healthcare Program for them to enjoy PhilHealth coverage as sponsored members.
“Mister Secretary, there are only 14,013 living World War II veterans at present and who are dying at an average rate of 300 per month. We earnestly hope that this request be given utmost priority so that we may realize the ultimate goal that no veteran shall pay for his own medicine,” Gazmin said.
For his part, Ona said that that they are exploring the expansion of Philhealth insurance coverage to all surviving World War II veterans.
“This is a promise we intend to keep,” Ona said.
“We cannot overemphasize the invaluable contributions that our veterans have done to our country that enjoys its sovereignty and to Filipinos who enjoy their freedom… And because many of our veterans are now in the twilight years and with deteriorating health, the Department of Health is here to address and assist in their share of those healthcare needs,” Ona added.