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DOH says gov’t to ensure health insurance for all as PhilHealth abolition eyed

The government will ensure that the healthcare needs of Filipinos will still be financed in the event that  PhilHealth is abolished, Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire said Wednesday.

Vergeire made the statement two days after President Rodrigo Duterte suggested the abolition of the state health insurer due to massive corruption.

“Kung mangyari man iyon, hindi naman papayag ang gobyerno na hindi punuan kung anuman ang kakulangan kung mangyari itong pronouncement ni Presidente; para hindi magkaroon ng financial hardship ang ating mga kababayan,” Vergeire said.

“Ang ating Pangulo ay may ganyang prerogative, base sa ebidensiya na inihahain sa kanya na i-privatize o tanggalin ito [PhilHealth], but we assure the public na kung sakaling ‘yan ay matuloy, hindi pababayaan ng gobyerno na walang ipapalit na financial mechanism na makaka-support at mapapangalagaan ang kalusugan ng ating mga kababayan,” Vergeire added.

PhilHealth officials have been accused of misusing P15 billion worth of funds under its Internal Reimbursement Mechanism, which granted advance payment claims to hospitals even if these hospitals do not cater to COVID-19 patients.

Per PhilHealth records, only P5.5 billion of the P15 billion IRM has been liquidated.

Since the controversy broke out, the Palace-formed Task Force already recommended the filing of charges against resigned PhilHealth chief Ricardo Morales, Senior Vice President Jovita Aragona, Officer in Charge Calixto Gabuya Jr., SVP Renato Limsiaco Jr., SVP Israel Pargas, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Arnel de Jesus, and Division Chief Bobby Crisostomo over the alleged PhilHealth fund misuse, including that of IRM.

The proposed 2021 budget allocated a P71 billion budget for PhilHealth, largely for the implementation of the Universal Healthcare law which provides free health insurance for all Filipinos. — BM, GMA News