PhilHealth probe ‘very important’ says Sotto

Published August 3, 2020, 3:10 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Whole Senate to look into ‘anomalies’ in hospital reimbursements

The Senate seeks to ferret out the truth behind the alleged anomalies hounding the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) in the hearing that will be conducted on Tuesday, August 4.

Sen. Vicente Sotto III (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

The chamber will convene as a Committee of the Whole and push through with its legislative inquiry despite the two-week modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ)  that will be enforced within its premises for two weeks from August 4 to 18.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III, who will be leading the hearing, said they could not postpone a “very important” matter especially that the country’s health care system is grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Masyadong dangerous na iwanan natin ng dalawang linggo nang nakatago, nakatabi (It’s too dangerous to set this aside for two weeks, hidden, sidelined),” Sotto said in an online interview with reporters.

“Napakahalaga sapagkat ‘yong mga topics na binanggit namin sa resolusyon namin…lahat ito may kinalaman sa nangyayari sa bansa ngayon kaya mahirap i-postpone (This hearing is very important because all the topics that we mentioned in our resolution… concern what is currently happening in the country). Mahirap patagalin (We cannot delay this),” he added.

Among other issues, Sotto said the senators would be questioning  new Philhealth officials on the fraudulent claims that the state health insurer have allegedly been paying in connivance with some hospitals and clinics, while denying, on the other hand, the legitimate claims from other hospitals.

They will also be looking into the Philhealth’s alleged overpriced purchase of an IT system. President Duterte had ordered a similar probe on the matter.

The implementation of the Interim Reimbursement Mechanisms for hospitals dealing with COVID-19 patients will also be taken up after lawmakers flagged the agency’s “questionable” releases.

The Committee of the Whole will also be discussing anew the state-run corporation’s “overpriced” COVID-19 testing packages, Sotto said.

Sotto said that aside from the alleged irregularities, the chamber also seeks to get answers from Philheath executives on the agency’s current financial position, specifically, “how and where these funds were spent”.

“We’d like them to answer the corruption allegations,” the Senate leader said. “Once and for all we unearth what is hidden behind close doors, that is what w intend to do.”

Sotto said they are eyeing the amendment of the Republic Act No. 7875, the law which created the Philhealth in 1995, “to prevent similar occurrences in the future.”Attachments area