Press Release
August 14, 2020

Plugging 'leaky' PhilHealth reimbursement system makes for better COVID response: Pangilinan

THE suspension of the "leaky" hospital reimbursement system of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) is a temporary yet critical measure in the fight against corruption and more importantly, in efforts to lead to a better COVID-19 response which the people deserve, Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan said Friday.

"It's a step that should have been done earlier. Kung binubulsa ang COVID funds sa IRM system, bakit itutuloy ang sistema?" the senator said, referring to PhilHealth's Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM) which was exposed in the Senate hearings to have leakages.

"Pag tumutulo ang balde dahil may butas, isasarado muna natin ang gripo at tatapalan ang butas para maayos ang pag-imbak ng tubig, 'ika nga," said Pangilinan.

Pangilinan was among the senators who earlier called for the PhilHealth's IRM suspension amid overwhelming graft allegations against executives and leakages in the reimbursement system that has depleted the state health insurer's funds.

Pangilinan is calling for the creation of an independent body composed of state auditors, Department of Health (DoH) representatives, and credible PhilHealth executives to examine the agency's books to see where every centavo went, and to formulate proposals on how to stop the bleeding of funds.

"Let us use this time to purge the PhilHealth records of unauthorized recipients and other anomalous transactions and preserve whatever peso is left in the agency's coffers," he said.

"It is also vital to protect the money coming in from members' contributions because this will help sustain the agency's fund life. And all this must be done quickly as the COVID cases continue to rise," Pangilinan added.

Pangilinan stressed that COVID-related subsidies to members should be prioritized such as testing and treatment of patients.

In these hard times when many are out of jobs and are just trying to make both ends meet, it is crucial that the government makes its presence felt especially among the poor Filipinos, the senator added.

Earlier, the Senate committee of the whole heard testimony that key PhilHealth officials had been bleeding the health insurer since 2013, pocketing up to P15 billion in 2019 alone.

As of August 13, the total number of COVID cases in the country is almost 150,000 with almost 2,500 deaths.

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