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PhilHealth says leaks may be plugged while Senate hears alcohol excise taxes


The Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) can plug leaks in the company as the Senate hears measures raising excise taxes on alcohol products, the state-run insurer’s top official said Monday.

“That’s actually logical, because you do not put something into a container that has holes. It will leak and you will lose all that money,” PhilHealth President Ricardo Morales said in an interview on ANC’s Headstart.

“But it’s not an either-or situation where you have to fix it first before you collect the taxes. They can collect the taxes and we can fix it simultaneously,” he said.

On Sunday, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said corruption at PhilHealth needs to stop before the Senate approves a measure raising excise taxes on alcohol products.

Once passed into law, the measure seeking to raise excise taxes on alcohol products would provide additional funding for the Universal Health Care Act, with PhilHealth as lead implementing agency.

“The operating budget is P160 billion under the Universal Health Care. That’s going to gradually increase to about P300 billion, but it’s going to gradually increase cause we have to fix all the holes and put PhilHealth in the condition to execute the law,” Morales noted.

PhilHealth is a tax-exempt government corporation for policy coordination and guidance, and attached to the Department of Health.

It is mandated to collect, deposit, invest, administer, and disburse the National Health Insurance Fund.

Under the the Universal Health Care law, those who have the capacity to pay are classified as direct contributors to PhilHealth, while indigents and senior citizens are indirect contributors sponsored by the government.

Morales said moves are underway to automate the PhilHealth system which will address corruption in the agency.

“The plan is to first automate the system. That will take a lot of money and maybe two to three years before we fully automate and integrate PhilHealth’s operation,” he said.

“We are a very complicated, complex company with about 1 million transactions a month, some of them in some areas with no connectivity, so mano-mano ‘yung transactions,” Morales noted.

In July, PhilHealth President Ricardo Morales said the agency would be reorganized to handle the workload once the Universal Health Care is in full swing. —Jon Viktor Cabuenas/VDS, GMA News

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