New PhilHealth chief vows to probe 'ghost dialysis', other scams

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 08 2019 10:58 AM | Updated as of Jul 08 2019 11:17 AM

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MANILA - The new president of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) on Monday vowed he would investigate "each and every report" of anomaly in the agency, which has reportedly cost it billions.

This after PhilHealth allegedly lost P154 billion since 2013 due to the "ghost dialysis" scam and several other fraudulent schemes and the existence of a supposed "mafia" within the agency.

"Some of these anomalies, if they are true, cannot happen without inside assistance so it’s very suspicious but I intend to investigate each and every report of these anomalies and get to the bottom of each one," PhilHealth president Ricardo Morales told ANC's Early Edition.

"It’s easier said than done but I want to rely on a bulletproof, airtight, robust information system that will help us reduce corruption. By the way, there’s no system in the world that’s totally free of corruption."

Morales, who was appointed last month, emphasized the importance of reducing corruption in the agency in light of the implementation of the Universal Healthcare Law.

"In the other healthcare systems in the world, the first few years were a learning curve," he said.

"In the UK, they had to put a cap after 3 years because the cost spiraled out of control. I anticipate something similar with our universal healthcare. It’s not going to be easy but it’s important to get the fundamentals right."

When asked if he would overhaul the agency, the retired army general said he is "keeping his options open."

"If that is what is needed then yes. There might be some major changes that we’ll have. It will be sometime before I have clear answers on this but I’m keeping my options open right now," he said.

"I’ll have to put together a team. There are many good people in Philhealth. I just have to identify them, bring them into line, provide them leadership so we can accomplish our goal."

In addressing fraudulent claims, Morales said PhilHealth would be working with the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) in getting the population's birth and death information.

The agency also plans to hire more investigators and lawyers to help with probing fraudulent claims, Morales said.

"When I look at the dashboard, (I think) maybe we need more lawyers and investigators than doctors because PhilHealth does not do any diagnosing or curing. It’s administrative, it’s management. And a lot of these management function is investigative, so we might need more lawyers and investigators," he said.

"Technology is going to solve a lot of the manpower requirements, it will simplify it but we might need more manpower."