PhilHealth execs ‘not off the hook’

June 13, 2019

THE Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) board of directors who have resigned over the ghost dialysis scam are not yet off the hook.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevara stressed that the PhilHealth officials’ resignations did not clear them of possible liabilities in the controversy that reportedly cost the government P100 billion in payment claims of “ghost” patients.

As a matter of fact, Guevarra revealed that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is now looking into their criminal liabilities.

“The NBI is looking into the possibility that certain PhilHealth officials may be charged for violation of the Anti-Graft Law if they knowingly participated in this allegedly fraudulent scheme and benefitted from it,” Guevarra said in an interview.

After meeting with President Duterte earlier this week, the PhilHealth officials led by president and chief executive officer Roy Ferrer tendered their courtesy resignation. 

The six other PhilHealth Board members who resigned were Jack Arroyo, elected local chief executive; Rex Maria Mendoza, independent director of the Monetary Board; Hildegardes Dineros of the information economy sector; Celestina Ma. Jude dela Serna of the Filipino overseas workers sector; Roberto Salvador of the formal economy sector; and Joan Cristine Reina Liban-Lareza of the health care provider sector.

Recently, the NBI filed charges of estafa and falsification of documents against officers of WellMed Dialysis and Laboratory Center led by owner Bryan Sy before the DoJ earlier this week.

But the complaint did not include any PhilHealth officials as they even stood as complainant in the charges against Sy and 10 others.  

Reforms needed

-- Garin

Permanent reforms in PhilHealth.

This is the proposal of former Health Secretary now elected Congresswoman of Iloilo Janette Loreto-Garin, as she lauded President Rodrigo Duterte’s quick and decisive action on the issue of fraudulent dialysis claims.

PhilHealth is now in hot water following reports of claims of dialysis treatment for even dead kidney patients.

According to Garin, she learned from being Secretary of Health that “fraud in the  health sector is a virus with no treatment.

“No vaccine. We can’t eradicate its habitat but we need to break the cycle. This ‘fraud virus’ mutates every time a new president, board and SOH assumes office. It is highly contagious. President Duterte’s political will is the antidote to break this cycle. He is the key to real and permanent reforms in PhilHeath,” Garin said in a statement.

The comebacking solon is confident that the action of President Duterte will once and for all whip the government insurance agency back in shape.

According to Garin, when she assumed as the Secretary of Health in 2014, there were several officers who reported about the abuse, and wastage of funds.

She deplored the cataract recruitment scheme, the flawed legal process, haphazard implementation and non-review of case rates.

She said PhilHealth had a very poor Information technology system, and most importantly, an absence of a culture of accountability.

Garin said with the help of some officers and board of directors, they effected drastic changes in the legal system by requiring a single docketing system since the docket numbers of cases would change when it was forwarded to one department to another. This new system made cases easier to track, and lessen the chance of “missing or shredding” of cases.

With Jester P. Manalastas