Velasco urged to prioritize Philhealth Reform bill

The chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means on Monday urged Speaker Lord Allan Velasco to include in the list of priority measures of the House of Representatives the proposed Philhealth Reform Act, which is the chamber’s version of a bill filed by Senator Christopher “Bong” Go in the Senate.

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda (Albay Rep. Joey Salceda's office / MANILA BULLETIN)

In a press statement, Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda underscored the urgency of passing House Bill 7578 which provides, among others, the replacement of the Secretary of Health as the chairman of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation board.          

Currently the Philhealth board is headed by the Secretary of Health.         

“The Senate counterpart of the reform, under Senate Bill No. 1829, has been approved recently by the Senate Committee on Health chaired by Go.        

“This is an opportunity for the House of Representatives to demonstrate its commitment to the transparency and accountability in governance that President Duterte calls upon us to uphold,” Salceda said in a lettter to Velasco.        

Salceda boasted that the House version is “a more comprehensive version that entirely includes and aligns with the Senate proposal” which was filed a few days earlier than the Senate bill.           

“The House, in other words, originated this reform and introduced it into the public discourse much earlier,” Salceda wrote.         

He added that the House version is backed by a comprehensive study.          

Last September, Salceda released the report entitled “A Prognosis and Treatment Program for Philhealth: Notes on The Country’s State Health Insurer.”           

The report is the basis for Salceda’s subsequently filed reform proposal.              The report identified that although corruption indeed runs deep in the institution, many of the agency’s problems arise out of design and structure.               

“We identified the lack of adequate financial expertise in its top management as a key reason for its financial troubles. In the resulting bill that incorporates the recommendations of the report (House Bill No. 7578), we propose to amend the Philhealth charter by having the Philhealth board chaired by the Secretary of Finance,” Salceda wrote, referring to his widely reported study.

Financial overhaul to lower costs for minimum wage earners, OFWs
The House tax panel head also offered to chair a technical working group to draft the final House version and work under the mother committee, the House Committee on Health.         

“Considering the highly financial nature of this reform, this representation is prepared to offer my past experience as a financial analyst and investment banker to lead a technical working group, under the Committee on Health, to draft the House’s final version and work with the Senate,” Salceda stated.