PhilHealth funds used like 'blank checks' by some hospitals: lawmaker

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 21 2020 02:42 PM

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The state health insurer parked in some hospitals funds that were "way bigger" than what they needed for coronavirus patients, allowing the money to be used like "a blank check," a lawmaker said Friday. 

Philippine Health Insurance Corp set aside P26.8 billion for its interim reimbursement mechanism (IRM) for hospitals, of which P14.9 billion was initially released, said Marikina Rep. Stella Quimbo. 

This is "way bigger than what they would need to fund coronavirus claims," said Quimbo, an economist, who estimated the needed budget at P3.3 billion. 

Only 10 percent of coronavirus patients require hospitalization in the Philippines, she reasoned. 

Of those hospitalized, only 64 percent were able to get reimbursement claims from PhilHealth. Meanwhile, only 1 percent of those who were tested for the virus got PhilHealth claims, she said. 

"Clearly, there’s an excess of funds in the hospitals themselves… It’s just like issuing a blank check to the hospital,” Quimbo told ANC. 

"There is so much money, there are no control mechanisms, they are given 120 days to liquidate. It’s like getting an interest-free loan." 

PhilHealth suspended the IRM after a whistleblower alleged that funds went to supposedly favored hospitals. 

The health insurer is under investigation by the House of Representatives, Senate and an inter-agency task force over accusations of corruption and mismanagement. 

Quimbo has filed a bill that seeks to allow President Rodrigo Duterte to privatize PhilHealth's top management and some segments of its operations. 

Reforming PhilHealth will also require cases to be filed against erring officials, she said. 

"Cases really need to be filed and not only filed—cases have to be won. Winning cases will have a demonstration effect on whoever intends to engage in fraudulent behavior," said the lawmaker. 

Watch her interview here. 

ANC, Aug. 21, 2020