Zubiri wants PhilHealth's advance payment scheme deferred over alleged irregularities

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 12 2020 03:52 PM

Senate Majority Leader Migz Zubiri delivers a sponsorship speech in the Senate on June 1, 2020. Henzberg Austria, Senate PRIB

MANILA - Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri on Wednesday called for the suspension of Philippine Health Insurance Corp's (PhilHealth) interim reimbursement mechanism (IRM), saying the policy has a lot of leakages and is "prone to corruption."

The IRM allows PhilHealth to provide advance payments to hospitals tending to COVID-19 patients, but Senate hearings found that a bulk of the amount have been disbursed to dialysis centers and maternity clinics.

"We should suspend the release of the IRM until we can come out with a proper formula for the accountable release ng mga pondong ito (of these funds)," Zubiri said in an online press conference.

PhilHealth should first justify how they calculate the amount given to each hospital, and how they decide which health facilities are prioritized in lists of beneficiaries, he said.

"Napaka-prone ito sa korapsyon... [dahil] napaka-discretionary," the Senate Majority Leader said.

(It's so prone to corruption because it's discretionary.)

"Itong pondong naiiwan sa (Funds left in the) IRM should be correctly accounted for up to the last centavo... and should be equitably distributed," he said.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon earlier said the PhilHealth has been priritizing the disbursement of advance payments to "favored" institutions, and accused the agency of withholding funds against regional offices with critical heads.

The Commission on Audit told senators on Tuesday that the state insurance agency missed the 60-day deadline to liquidate some P15 billion it had earmarked for advance payments to hospitals.

PhilHealth has only liquidated P1 billion of the P15 billion it placed under the IRM.

PhilHealth President Ricardo Morales has blamed the insurance firm's regional vice presidents for the slow liquidation of funds.