Press Release
August 16, 2020

Drilon wants IRM scrapped, says PhilHealth services continue even without IRM
The minority leader also says Duque cannot escape liability being the chairman of PhilHealth

There is no need for Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to give billions of pesos in cash advances to various hospitals under its Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM), supposedly for the treatment of Covid-19 patients, if PhilHealth can fast-track the payment of hospital reimbursements and claims on time, said Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon, as he called for the scrapping of the mechanism tainted with corruption and irregularities.

Drilon said Drilon in an interview with radio station DzBB on Sunday that the scrapping of the Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM), which he described as a mere cash advance to hospitals, will not and should not affect the services PhilHealth is mandated to provide under the law.

PhilHealth temporarily suspended the program amid reports of irregularities.

Drilon made the statement as the Department of Justice, tasked by the President to look into corruption allegations in PhilHealth, revealed that it is investigating various corruption schemes in the agency that involved the "exploitation" of the IRM and the PhilHealth's case rate system, among others.

"PhilHealth programs will not be affected even if we get rid of this IRM. PhilHealth will and should continue to pay for the hospitalization of Covid-19 patients even if we scrap this IRM fraught with irregularities," Drilon said.

Drilon said what the PhilHealth should do is to speed up the reimbursement or payment of claims of the hospitals that treated Covid-19 patients but were excluded from the IRM. Likewise, it should require the hospitals that received a total of P14.9 billions in cash advances to liquidate the funds immediately.

"Even the name Interim Reimbursement Mechanism is a misnomer because this is not a system of reimbursement but an advance - one with very weak liquidation procedure, " Drilon said during the Senate investigation last week.

"Kung binabayaran kaagad nila ang mga hospital, hindi na kailangan itong mga sistema ng advances na umaabot ng bilyun-bilyon," Drilon said.

"Galit na ang taumbayan. Ito ay para sa health sector. Ang laki ng pera na inilalagay ngunit ang serbisyo na ibinibigay ay kulang dahil sa katiwalian," Drilon said in the radio interview.

Drilon said the creation of IRM is the result of slow processing of payment claims in the agency. The reports said PhilHealth owed hospitals around P18 billion in unpaid claims, he noted.

"They should improve their system and reimburse the hospitals on time. Then, there is no need for this IRM," he stressed. "The hospitals are suffering from these delayed payments."

"Yung mga hospitals hirap na, marami silang serbisyo na nagawa na at humihingi ng reimbursement," he added.

The minority leader also said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III cannot escape liability being the chairman of PhilHealth.

"Corruption has been going on under his nose for years yet we heard nothing from him. Did he do something to prevent it?" Drilon said in a separate statement.

"First of all, what did he do to lessen, if not totally eradicate, these corruption and frauds in PhilHealth?" he added.

It was Drilon who exposed the overpricing of PhilHealth Covid-19 test kits, which forced the health insurance agency to bring down the cost from P8,150 to P3,409. This saved the government over P9 billion, on the basis of a projected two million tests.

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