New PhilHealth chief advised to check agency’s viability

Published June 5, 2018, 3:58 PM

by Patrick Garcia

By Hannah Torregoza

Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara today urged the new Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) chief to check the agency’s financial viability to determine if their fund is still “in the pink of health.”

Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara (Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)
Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara

Angara made the call after President Duterte named Dr. Roy Ferrer as the new PhilHealth chief after sacking its interim president Celestina Dela Serna amid questions regarding her excessive hotel and travel expenses.

“We hope Dr. Ferrer can look after the financials of PhilHealth amidst the allegations of excessive travel expenses, overpayment of claims, and other problems which threaten the financial viability of PhilHealth funds,” Angara said.

“Every peso misspent is a peso taken away from poor Filipino families who need it the most,” he stressed.

The senator stressed there must be a body that would capably track PhilHealth’s actuarial life.

“Ideally, it should be the PhilHealth board that shall serve as ‘guarantor of PhilHeath’s sustainability.’ But if the board is subject to political or management capture, its supposed work is compromised,” Angara pointed out.

“The board should have a long-term view, and should insulate the fund from wasteful or populist programs which shorten PhilHealth’s life,” he said.

If oversight had not been lax, Angara said questionable expenses like the hotel expenses of the previous PhilHealth president would have been flagged early.

“We should remember that PhilHealth is a megacorporation. Last year, it spent over P100 billion in payouts. It is also a major recipient of government funds, with more than P60 billion allocated in this year’s national budget for the enrollment of 15-million indigents and senior citizens,” he said.

“Because of the important role it plays, PhilHealth can’t afford to be financially distressed. Kalusugan ng bawat Pilipino ang nakataya rito, (Each Filipino’s health is at stake here),” the senator stressed.

Angara said he is also concerned over the alleged diversion of the P10.6-billion funds for senior citizens to the supposed construction of rural health units in 2015.

He said it is imperative that funds appropriated for the country’s senior citizens should remain intact.

Angara said he will not allow corruption to taint the very organization his own father, the late Edgardo J. Angara, had helped form and create.

“Hindi natin papayagang mabahiran ng katiwalian ang institusyong nilikha ng aking ama na ang layunin ay gawing abot-kaya ang pagpapagamot lalo na para sa mga senior citizen at mahihirap nating kababayan na higit na nangangailangan nito, (We cannot allow corruption to taint the institution that my father created to ensure our senior citizen have access to cheaper medicines and healthcare services),” said Angara, author of the Expanded Senior Citizens law and the Universal Health Care law.