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PhilHealth funds protected, safe: Palace

Elmer Navarro Manuel

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Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque assured the public on Saturday that the contribution of members of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) will still be protected in the event that the state health insurer would be reorganized.

In a radio interview, the Palace spokesperson noted that if the state health insurer will be privatized or abolished due to corruption, the government will ensure that the members’ contributions will not be “whisked away.”

Roque also clarified that in the event that PhilHealth will be reorganized, there would be a transitory provision in the law.

He also noted that the health insurer was created by a law, thus it should also be ended through a law.

Roque believes there are still good and honest people in PhilHealth, which is why the alleged irregularities have been exposed, and that the agency could still be saved.

Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte has directed newly-minted PhilHealth chief Dante Gierran to rid the agency of corruption by the end of the year.

“The deadline given to Attorney Gierran is a deadline to clean up the organization. File all the cases that need to be filed, suspend, terminate, whatever you need to do in order to cleanse the ranks of PhilHealth,” Roque said.

Gierran, meantime, vowed to address corruption at PhilHealth within two years.

This comes after Duterte approved the recommendation of an inter-agency task force to file charges against resigned PhilHealth chief Ricardo Morales and other executives over anomalies in the state insurer.

Task Force PhilHealth has flagged anomalies in the approval and implementation of PhilHealth’s Interim Reimbursement Mechanism, the procurement of ICT equipment, and policies in holding erring employees and healthcare institutions accountable.

More people may face prosecution as the investigations continue, the Department of Justice had said.

Duterte has expressed openness to the idea of privatizing or abolishing PhilHealth following allegations of corruption in the state health insurer.

However, Senate President Vicente Sotto III told the President in a meeting with congressional leaders last Wednesday that “it might be better to wait a few months and see how the new administration performs.”

Sotto also said the President agreed to his proposal to have the Secretary of the Department of Finance to head the PhilHealth Board instead of the Secretary of the Department of Health.

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