By Vanne Terrazola
Senator-elect Christopher “Bong” Go on Monday said he is supporting the proposed suspension of the Universal Health Care (UHC) program until the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) is finally led by “trustworthy” officials.
Go said he might convince President Duterte to hold off the implementation of the UHC amid the controversy on the “ghost” dialysis claims.
“I agree [with the suspension], pwede rin po siguro. Pwede rin po munang i-suspend ito kung saka-sakaling wala pa tayong mapagkakatiwalang tao na magdadala ng Universal Health Care program. Malaking halaga ‘yan (UHC) eh,” he told reporters in a press briefing Monday afternoon.
(I agree with the suspension, it may be considered. We can suspend this until we have a trusted person in the Philhealth who would deliver the Universal Health Care program. It involves a hughe amount of money.)
Go raised his concern as he noted that the Philhealth will be receiving more funding to implement the national health insurance program covering all Filipinos.
Congress recently passed the bill increasing the tobacco excise taxes to fill in the funding gap for the rollout of the UHC. Economic managers said the government needs P257 billion for the UHC’s rollout in the first year.
Go said the proposal has yet to be raised with Duterte, who, he said, was dismayed with the Philhealth over the “ghost dialysis” scam.
Asked if he would recommend the suspension of the UHC, the Chief Executive’s right-hand man said: “Sa ngayon, until ma-resolve itong isyu on the fraudlent claims. Ayoko na pong maulit ito (I will ask for its suspension for now, until the issue on fraudulent claims is resolved. I don’t want this to happen again).”
In the same press briefing, Go bared that Duterte has already asked members of the Philhealth board, including its President Roy Ferrer, to resign following the controversy.
He said Duterte eyes to appoint a new Philhealth president who is “strict and will protect the government’s money.”
Calls to suspend the implementation of the UHC surfaced following reports that Philhealth was funding fraudulent claims, the dialysis of dead members being the most recent.
But proponents of the program thumbed down the move. Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito earlier said that it will be “unfair” for Philhealth beneficiaries to be deprived of health care services.