THE House panel investigating Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) irregularities has discovered and is now looking into P600 million worth of alleged late payments.
Surigao del Norte Representative Robert Ace Barbers slammed PhilHealth officials over another alleged anomaly.
Barbers asked PhilHealth officials to explain the Board approval of more than P600 million in late payments to hospitals with rejected claims from 2011 to 2019.
The solon noted that since 2011, various hospitals all over the country have been claiming payments from PhilHealth.
But all these claims amounting to more than P4 billion pesos have been rejected by the Protest Appeals and Review Department (PARD) of PhilHealth.
In a related development, Deputy Speaker and Ilocos Sur Rep. Deogracias Victor Savellano expressed disgust over the widespread corruption in PhilHealth which put to waste the sacrifices of tobacco farmers who have helped the agency.
Savellano said the taxes coming from tobacco industry have been steadly rising to fund programs of PhilHealth and Department of Health (DOH).
About 2 million farmers are working in tobacco plantations and contributed some P147.6 billion in excise tax to the government in 2019.
“Nuong pinasa ang RA 10351 o Sin Tax Law nuong 2012, nagtaas ang excise tax ng tabako ng 1,554 percent. Mula 2.72 na tax kada kaha, naging P45 na ito ngayon. Pinataw pa natin ang RA 10963 o Train Law noong December 2017, RA 11364 noong June 2019 at RA 11467 noong January ng taong ito. Tumaas ang excise tax mula 2017 hanggang 2020 ng 50 percent,” he said in a statement. “Sa lahat ng binuwisan ng excise tax, ang tabako ang pinakamalaki ang pagtaas,” he also said adding that the burden brought about by these taxes have been on the shoulders of the tobacco farmers.
On the late payments issue, it was discovered that in an unexplainable sudden turn of events last May 2020, without the required detailed evaluation of each claim, PARD reversed its decisions and decided to grant its version of an “amnesty” by paying all these hospitals.
However, the Board only allowed a little over P600 million to be paid, out of a total of more than four Billion pesos in claims.
“How can the PARD and former SVP del Rosario justify this very anomalous deal? PARD is under the office of SVP Jojo del Rosario. With the lame excuse of helping these hospitals cope with the COVID pandemic, they suddenly became generous and considerate after years of neglecting these claims. First, each claim should have undergone detailed scrutiny and evaluation before being reconsidered. Second, how do you evaluate claims from two to nine years ago? Third, why the need to pay those claims that have undergone evaluation and have been rejected a long time ago for various reasons? Fourth, if the reason for resuscitating them is because PhilHealth erred, then these officials are liable for gross negligence and gross neglect of duty under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, for sitting on these transactions all these years,” Barbers said.
“The Board did not even do a simple due diligence and blindly approved the recommendations for ‘amnesty’ of PARD and SVP del Rosario. They are all grossly negligent and entered into a deal that is grossly disadvantageous to the government.
“In a matter of days, PARD has reversed years-old decisions and succeeded in getting a Board approval for more than P600 million. It is just like peanuts for them. What is in it for Atty. Polintan of PARD, SVP del Rosario and the Philhealth Mafia, I wonder”, Barbers added.
Public Accounts Committee Chairman Mike Defensor instructed Barbers to explore this matter further as this could constitute another case against PhilHealth officials and that if there is strong evidence, that this be included in the Committee report.