President Rodrigo Duterte
President Rodrigo Duterte Image Credit: AP

Manila: President Rodrigo Duterte said he is “inclined” to act on the alleged controversies involving PhilHealth while officials of the state-run socialised health cover denied the corruption allegations being hurled against them.

“At this time, I do not have the evidence or proof, so I am not in a position to say that there’s government men involved …(But) I am inclined to believe that I have to do something about it next week. I’m making the announcement that I may be reshuffling the PhilHealth,” the President said, adding that that what makes this issue big, is that public money is involved.

Last week, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that the government is losing billions of pesos to scams perpetrated at the Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth) in collusion with certain hospitals. Among these rackets are so-called “ghost dialysis.”

The modus operandi were exposed by two former officials of the WellMed Dialysis & Laboratory Centre Corp in Novaliches, Quezon City who said that PhilHealth continued to charge fees for dialysis for some patients even though these are already dead.

“When it becomes clear that the amount is getting big, somebody should look somewhere. I really don’t know how to do it. I am not a systems analyst but what we need are really business people because the matter is purely management,” The President was quoted as saying in reports.

Last February, Duterte signed the Universal Health Care Law providing significantly improved services to include more Filipinos across the income strata, but over the years, the PhilHealth has incurred considerable loses.

Duterte said that misuse of funds and overpayments to claims over the past six years had resulted in the loss of P154 billion (Dh10 billion) for the PhilHealth.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, said Duterte had already directed management of the PhilHealth “to institute criminal actions against those officials and employees who wittingly or unwittingly allowed such misuse of funds to take place for years.”

But PhilHealth for its part, denied any wrongdoing by its officials.

“No mafia can survive in the PhilHealth under the watch of President Duterte,” said Dr Roy Ferrer, PhilHealth acting president and CEO.

Dr Ferrer blamed officials of the past administration for creating intrigue to discredit the current PhilHealth officials.

Dr Ferrer also clarified that so-called “mafia members” in the countryside are actually members of a syndicate of cheating, disloyal, and disgruntled PhilHealth officers who have colluded with hospitals and other health care facilities.

For a great number of Filipinos, including overseas Filipino workers, PhilHealth benefits is possibly the most used social cover and it is a source of great concern if its funds are being depleted by thieving hospitals and officials who condone corruption.