House body to probe the plight of dialysis patients at the NKTI

By on December 28, 2014

Ching Dee / PCI
Ching Dee / PCI

MANILA — Lawmakers called for a congressional inquiry into the problems preventing peritoneal dialysis patients to access adequate dialysis solutions and assistance at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI).

Reps. Neri Colmenares and Carlos Isagani Zarate (Partylist, Bayan Muna) filed House Resolution 1761 urging the House Committee on Health to summon the officials of NKTI, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) and PhilHealth to shed on the matter.

“The situation puts the lives of many peritoneal dialysis patients at risk and will further compound their financial difficulties,” Colmenares said.

“Moreover, the additional limitations, restrictions and requirements imposed by PhilHealth, PCSO and NKTI make it doubly difficult for patients to access needed solutions and assistance. The patients feel that NKTI, instead of alleviating their suffering, is cashing in on their predicament,” Colmenares added.

Colmenares said there are more than 23,000 patients undergoing dialysis treatment at the NKTI.

“Access to dialysis solutions and financial assistance may spell the difference between life and death for many peritoneal dialysis patients, thus, Congress need to investigate the matter to come up with legislative measures that will address the concerns and save the lives of many peritoneal dialysis patients,” Colmenares said.

According to Colmenares, patients undergoing peritoneal dialysis spend an average of Php30,000 to Php 40,000 per month for a 4-exchange per sessions per day on dialysis solution, medicines, food supplements, and supplies.

Colmenares said patients who directly file claim with PhilHealth get reimbursements of Php 3,500 per claim, and because the amount is not enough to cover the prescribed exchanges, many patients look for other sources including solicitations and guarantee letters from members of congress and charitable institutions, including the PCSO.

“This covers supplies and accessories for 90 to 120 bags per month according to the peritoneal dialysis prescription and will translate to Php 22,500 per month, barely enough for the required number of solutions of 120 bags for a patient who undergoes 4 exchanges a day, totaling Php 28,560 at Php 238 per bag rate at the NKTI,” he said.

“The amount is not enough for a patient who needs 6 exchanges per day, or Php 42,480 for the needed 180 bags of solution,” Colmenares said.

Zarate said when patients avail of the case rate under PhilHealth, they are required to get the solution from NKTI at Php 238 per bag, which is costlier compared to other sources at Php 195 per bag, and that they are issued a receipt by NKTI for 36 bags but only get 26 bags for half month treatment.

Zarate also cited a report that NKTI refused guarantee letter from PCSO after a hospital social worker discovered a patient selling PD solutions solicited from PCSO funds.

Zarate said the NKTI put on hold the implementation of PD first policy, and limit the bags issued to 13 bags per week for PD patients availing of PhilHealth case rate package.

“Patients fear that the prolonged shortage may result to higher prices of PD solution, higher incidence of infections, or even deaths,” Zarate said.

“Worse, if the patients do not avail of the case rate package of PhilHealth, they will not be given referral to PCSO at all,” Zarate added.