CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – The national government must shoulder the burial or cremation expenses of patients who died of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), a Cagayanon lawmaker said Friday (April 17).
In a statement, Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said the Department of Health (DOH) “should pay for all the burial expenses of all Covid-19 patients on a reimbursement scheme where the local government units will first respond to the burial needs from the hospital to the funeral parlor/crematorium to the burial site.”
Rodriguez said, “all the expenses of the LGU [local government unit] should be reimbursed by the DOH.”
He also said that local governments that will facilitate the cremation or burial must have fully protected teams to take care of cremation and other burial arrangements.
Rodriguez’s pronouncement came after watching a television report of widows of Covid-19 victims walking long distances just to attend to their dead.
“We should spare them such pain and agony. That is adding insult to injury since they have already lost their loved ones to this deadly virus,” he said.
Rodriguez added, “We should discourage relatives from directly participating in these arrangements for their own protection and safety, as they would be exposed to the virus.”
He said the Muslim tradition of burying their dead within 24 hours should also be followed.
On Monday (April 13), the government’s inter-agency task force against Covid-19 directed all LGUs to ensure that the corpses of those who died from it are cremated or buried within 12 hours to prevent the spread of the virus, and to bear the cost involved in the burial.
To date, the city government of Makati responded by announcing it would assume the cost of cremation or burial.
But Rodriguez said most local governments “are not like Makati in terms of financial resources, and the national government should help by reimbursing the full cost of cremation/burial of Covid-19 patients’ remains.”
Earlier, the legislator has appealed to the Phil. Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) to consider paying for the hospital and medical expenses of Covid-19 patients who are confined.
“Patients who are poor and even those belonging to the middle class certainly cannot afford P61,000 or even much less than that a day. The government, through Philhealth, has to help them by shouldering the full cost of treatment,” Rodriguez said.
According to the news report, the Mindanao lawmaker referred to, the unnamed hospital charged the patient a total of P1,112,327.59.
The bill, consisting of more than 50 pages, included P176,945 for the patient’s stay in the emergency room, P123,665 for the use of an incubator, P178,820, for x-rays and a test kit, and P305,636.06 for medicines.
The report stated that the hospital required the patient to sign a promissory note before he was discharged. (davaotoday.com)