Drilon: Gov't could lose P8.3 B due to PhilHealth's overspending in testing

By Jeffrey Damicog and Hannah Torregoza

Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon on Wednesday warned the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) it could be held criminally liable if it pursues a hefty package rate for COVID-19 test kit for its members unless they reduce the amount of overhead costs.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon  (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN) Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon
(Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

Drilon, during the Senate committee of the whole hearing on the government’s COVID-19 response, earlier questioned the P8,150 amount shouldered by PhilHealth under its for coronavirus disease tests, saying he finds it overpriced.

According to Drilon, PhilHealth could potentially lose up to P8.3-billion especially if the government’s goal is to test two (2) million Filipinos for the coronavirus disease.

“Nakakalungkot dahil makikita rito ay may overpayment ang PhilHealth sa bawat test—P4,150. Kahapon sinabi ng IATF na kailangan mag testing sa 2 million nating kababayan, kung ang overpayment is at P4, 150 bawat test, ang potential overpayment at lugi sa PhilHealth ay P8.3-billion (It’s sad to see PhilHeath has an overpayment for each test P4,150. The IATF said yesterday they need to test 2 million Filipinos. If the overpayment is P4,150, the potential overpayment and loss for PhilHealth is at P8.3-billion),” Drilon said in an interview over TeleRadyo.

“Sinabi ko kahapon iyan kay Secretary (Francisco) Duque (III), bakit P8, 150 ang ibinabayad ng PhilHealth? Nakakalungkot na parang hindi niya alam kung paano na-compute ang P8,150, (I inquired that with Secretary Duque asking why PhilHealth is charging P8,150. It’s sad to see he doesn’t know how it is computed),” he said.

“Kung iyan po ang babayaran ng PhilHealth, ang laki ng overpricing at sa panahon ngayon na hirap ang pamahalaan—may deficit, kulang ang pera at naghahanap ng malaking pera para sa economic stimulus—nakakalungkot iyan. (If that is the amount PhilHealth will pay, that’s overpricing and during this time, when the government is struggling—there is deficit, lack of funds, and looking for funds for an economic stimulus—that is saddening),” he pointed out.

“Babalik ang PhilHealth sa amin at sasabihin ko sa kanila ng deretso na this is a criminal act. Eight billion pesos (P8-billion) ang masasayang at hindi naman kailangan. (Once PhilHealth faces us, I will tell them straight that this is a criminal act; P8-billion is going to waste when we could avoid that),” he stressed.

Asked what possible criminal act PhilHealth is facing, Drilon, in a separate text message, responded that its executives can be held liable under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practice Act, “as it is patent inimical to the people.”

Drilon earlier pointed out the costs of the private sector in conducting COVID-19 tests only range from P3,500 to P4,000.

“Roughly a reasonable cost for one test is P4,000,” the lawmaker pointed out.

Drilon cited that his researchers showed that this include P1,500 for a test kit from China, P2,000 for overhead and materials used, and P500 as a margin for the hospital.

“That is the cost that the Red Cross would recover and charge from the patients who would avail themselves of the testing facilities of Red Cross,” he also pointed out.

“Now what is Philhealth doing, they are reimbursing the hospitals for the same work and same process at P8,150,” he lamented.

“The overpayment by Philhealth is P4,100 per tests,” he added.