PhilHealth misses 60-day deadline to liquidate COVID-19 disbursements: COA

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 11 2020 06:19 PM | Updated as of Aug 12 2020 09:38 AM

People crowd outside a PhilHealth branch in Quezon City on August 3, 2020, last day of the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) before Metro Manila reverted to Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ). Fernando G. Sepe Jr., ABS-CBN News/file photo

MANILA - The Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth) has violated auditing rules after the agency failed to liquidate its cash advances 60 days after these were released to regional hospitals and offices, the Commission on Audit (COA) said Tuesday.

COA does not usually allow advance payments, but PhilHealth was "authorized" to place deposits in hospitals under the Universal Health Care Act, COA chairman Michael Aguinaldo said.

But COA records showed that the agency failed to meet the 2-month deadline to submit the liquidation for the disbursements.

"The liquidation should be made within 60 days or when the purpose has been met, whichever comes first," COA Dir. Cleotilde Tuazon said.

The COA has advised PhilHealth President Ricardo Morales to fast track the liquidation as the insurance firm down not "know how much has been spent and how much is the balance," she said.

PhilHealth has liquidated P1 billion of the P14 billion it has earmarked for its interim reimbursement mechanism, Tuazon said.

"But it doesn't mean that only P1 billion has been spent... They don't know how much has been spent and how much is the balance," she said.

PhilHealth was also advised to "pull out those balances" from regions with low COVID-19 incidents and give it to regions with a lot of COVID-19 cases.

"Unfair naman kung ang isang region ang laki ng balance pero wala naman silang COVID cases," Tuazon said.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon earlier said that the PhilHealth was not disbursing funds to his hometown Iloilo, after the regional chair of Western Visayas was accused of providing the Senate with documents that sparked an investigation against the insurance firm last year.

Morales blamed PhilHealth regional officials for allegedly submitting late liquidation reports.