Bankrupt by 2022? Recto says PhilHealth has P110-billion contingency fund

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 04 2020 03:33 PM

MANILA - Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Tuesday disputed the Philippine Health Insurance Corp's (PhilHealth) projection that it may collapse in 2022 should it fail to receive more government subsidy, saying the firm has P110 billion in contingency funds.

PhilHealth has retained earnings or an equity worth P110 billion, on top of the premium contributions from members and subsidies from sin taxes, Recto said during a Senate investigation.

"Hindi ko nakikita paano mauubos 'yung P110 billion niyo na reserve fund," the senator said, noting that PhilHealth receives P77 billion in direct contributions and about P63 billion in sin taxes.

(I don't see how your reserve fund of P110 billion would run out.)

"The reason why may reserve fund ang PhilHealth ay para sa ganitong sitwasyon na pandemic," he said.

(The reason why PhilHealth has reserve funds is for a situation such as this pandemic.)

PhilHealth data protection officer Nerissa Santiago earlier told senators that the insurance firm's reserve fund is expected to be depleted by 2022 due to decreasing collections and increasing payouts for the hospitalization of coronavirus patients.

But Recto said PhilHealth's projected P184-billion expense for the Universal Health Care program should not be taken from the contingency fund as this is usually included in the agency's regular expenses with or without a global pandemic.

The only items that should be charged from the P110-billion standby fund is the P28 billion for COVID-19 testing, and another P22.5 billion for the reimbursement of coronavirus-related expenses of members, the senator said.

"Hindi made-deplete 'yung P110 billion na reserve fund. May matitira pa ngang P60 billion next year," he said.

(The P110 billion reserve fund won't be depleted. There will be P60 billion left for next year.)

PhilHealth has lost P154 billion due to fraudulent schemes and overpayments since 2013, Sen. Grace Poe said.

"Kung 'yang perang 'yan ay nagagamit ng tama, marami pa sanang puwedeng tulungan," Poe said.

(If that money is used properly, it can help many more.)

"Hindi ito basta numero lang. Numero ito na nakakaapekto sa ating mga kababayan," she said.

(This is not just a number. This is a number that affects our people.)

Recto said the Senate would review PhilHealth's expenses before the chamber approves its request for additional subsidy next year.

"Tiningnan ko din operational expenses ninyo at hindi ito sang-ayon sa batas," Recto said.

(I also looked at your expenses and this is not according to law.)

"Sabi sa batas, 7 percent lang ng premium contribution ang puwedeng gastusin (the law says you can only spend 7 percent of premium contributions)... [but] last year you spent P12 billion [for operation expenses] which is over and above what was mandated by law," he said.

The Senate is also expected to amend the law that created PhilHealth to plug leakages and curb corruption in the state-run health insurance agency.