PhilHealth's hospital reimbursements for COVID-19 cases 'based on vengeance': Drilon

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 11 2020 03:50 PM | Updated as of Aug 11 2020 06:05 PM

PhilHealth's hospital reimbursements for COVID-19 cases 'based on vengeance': Drilon 1
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon. November 19, 2019. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Friday said "vengeance" was the Philippine Health Insurance Corp's (PhilHealth) basis for selecting which hospitals would receive reimbursements for expenses of COVID-19 patients.

Drilon made the allegation after PhilHealth Board Member Alejandro Cabading said in a Senate hearing that the minority leader's home province Iloilo did not receive adequate COVID-19 funding as its regional vice president was a "perceived enemy."

"It would appear that the denial of participating in this IRM is based on vengeance rather than need," Drilon said in the hearing, referring to the agency's interim reimbursement mechanism.

"Sa amin po hindi nila nagustuhan 'yung aming regional director dahil 'yan 'yung nagsumbong noong nakaraang taon," the senator said.

(They did not like our regional director because the report against them came from there last year.)

Drilon did not mention names but Valerie Hollero is the current vice chair of PhilHealth in Western Visayas.

Hollero previously served as PhilHealth Assistant Corporate Secretary before being assigned to Region 6.

Cabading said she was among those who provided information that triggered a Senate investigation into alleged irregularities in PhilHealth last year.

"'Yung regional vice president doon perceived enemy of the exec com
(The regional vice president there is a perceived enemy of the executive committee) because she is the one who supplied the information that triggered the Senate investigation last year," Cabading told Drilon.

PhilHealth president and CEO Ricardo Morales belied the allegation, and accused the Western Visayas vice chair of inefficiency.

"I was the one who assigned her in Region 6. I had to reprimand her because she was slow in processing the IRM," Morales said.

Drilon questioned why dialysis centers and maternal clinics which were not catering to COVID-19 patients were given funds meant exclusively for the global pandemic.

"The clinics were located in areas with high COVID incidence... nasali sila," Morales explained.

Drilon said Morales' reason for the questionable disbursement of funds was "shallow."

"A reasonable mind would not accept that as a reason... This is a reimbursement mechanism for COVID-related claims. Obviously, there is no COVID-related claims in these dialysis centers and maternity clinics," the senator said.

"Lahat ng ospital at mga pasyente sa amin [sa Iloilo] ay nahihirapan dahil sa mga ganitong gawain," he said.

(All hospitals in our place are having a hard time because of this.)

As of August 8, Western Visayas lodged 1,931 COVID-19 cases, with 31 deaths and 957 recoveries.