The graft-ridden Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) needs structural changes to make it a responsive health insurance agency to protect the interests of its contributors and beneficiaries.
Senator Panfilo M. Lacson, vice chairman of the Senate Committee of the Whole (COW), said he would suggest that the COW lists these changes in its upcoming report which is scheduled to be submitted next week to its members for signature and eventual floor debate.
He cited these proposals when asked who he should suggest to replace retired Brigadier General Ricardo Morales as President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of PhilHealth, who was asked to send to Malacanang his retirement papers because he is suffering from cancer.
Two of these proposed changes are centralized computerization and reduction of the powers of PhilHealth’s Executive Committee (ExCom).
With the ExCom weakened, the powers of the agency’s Board of Directors composed of Cabinet members should be strengthened, he explained.
‘’Kasi ang board mga responsible officials yan,’’ he explained. (These Cabinet members are responsible officials.)
The Department of Health (DOH) secretary is the ex-officio board chairman.
However, these Cabinet members who are on an ex-officio standing must be physically present during board meetings to pass board resolutions and policies ‘’as designated by law.’’
‘’Pero dapat hindi puro representatives pinapupunta nila pag may board meetings,’’ he added. (Cabinet members should not send just representatives to attend board meetings.)
Another proposed change is an honest to goodness installation of a digitalized computer system.
He cited the Bureau of Customs which had been mandated by law to computerize its operations ‘’pero ayaw nila mag-automate…so computerized na pero nariyan ang human intervention…dapat sa ibang bansa kasi puro online.’’ (They do not want to automate…there is human intervention in its computerized system…other countries have on online operations.)
One of the issues raised against PhilHealth is the alleged overpricing of information technology (IT) equipment.
Lacson expressed optimism that corruption would be reduced at Philhealth and even at the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) once human intervention is kept at a safe distance.
He said the Department of Information Communication and Technology (DICT) should monitor the digitalization of various government agencies as part of its oversight functions.