PhilHealth mafia pocketed 15 billion

Officials of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. have allegedly pocketed some P15 billion in funds through anomalous transactions, a resigned PhilHealth officer disclosed during a Senate hearing yesterday.

Thorrsson Montes Keith, who had resigned as anti-fraud legal officer of PhilHealth due to what he described as widespread corruption in the agency, alleged that a “mafia” was behind what he branded as the “crime of the year” due to fraudulent schemes.

“Naniniwala po ako na ang perang winaldas at ninakaw ay humigit kumulang P15 billion (I believe that the money spent and stolen amounted to more or less P15 billion),” Keith testified online before the Senate committee of the whole.

Amid the discovery of alleged anomalies in PhilHealth, acting senior vice president Nerissa Santiago said the insurance agency could go bankrupt next year.

Santiago told the Senate committee of the whole that the agency, which has about P221 billion in funds, may no longer be able to sustain operations due to the decreased collections and increased payouts for the health expenses of members due to COVID-19.
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On questioning from Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Santiago said prior to the COVID-19 crisis, the actuarial life of PhilHealth fund was 10 years, but when the pandemic struck, its lifespan drastically shortened to just one year.

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“Because of the decreased contributions and increased COVID-19 payouts, we are expecting by 2021, we will be in the red... We can only survive with additional contribution coming from the government,” Santiago said.

Visibly shocked, Drilon asked, “Are you saying in 2022, there will be no PhilHealth?”

Santiago answered in the affirmative, saying the agency projects net operating losses at P90 billion for this year and if the pandemic persists until 2021, operating losses will total P147 billion. She said the PhilHealth system would “collapse” by then.

She said if the pandemic continues to spread and no vaccine will be developed soon, the agency can no longer operate unless all its obligations will be shouldered by the national government.

Part of the issue being investigated is the alleged favoritism of PhilHealth in implementing its Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM) to hospitals supposedly to help them cope with COVID-19 cases.

Drilon noted the agency released about P15 billion to the hospitals from its IRM even if only P1 billion was liquidated by healthcare institutions.

PhilHealth collects over P70 billion from contributions of members and employers and obtained an infusion of P71 billion from this year’s General Appropriations Act derived from sin taxes to implement the Universal Health Care (UHC) Law.

Expenses for the UHC is expected to increase to over P184 billion next year.


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