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Thursday, June 13, 2024

‘Build hospitals with excess PhilHealth funds’

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A party-list member of the House of Representatives has proposed the realignment of excess funds of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to finance the construction of more hospitals and health centers across the country.

Rep. Ray T. Reyes of the AnaKalusugan party-list group, vice chairman of the Committee on Health, made the suggestion after the Appropriations committee approved House Bill 9513 which seeks to allow the government to tap excess revenues of government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) to bankroll items under the unprogrammed funds in the General Appropriations Act.

“We are proposing to realign what is given to PhilHealth to be returned for the construction of much needed hospitals,” Reyes said.

Based on pertinent guidelines, Reyes said PhilHealth should have only P200 billion in reserves. “Right now, they are at more than P400 billion. Imagine how many hospitals at health centers will be built with readily available P 200 billion,” he noted.

Reyes said AnaKalusugan was also looking at rechanneling PhilHealth’s excess budget to finance the hiring of medical professionals or raise the salary rates of government medical personnel to make them more competitive.

“I think we all can agree that health workers deserve more pay increase and huge benefits,” he said.

“We cannot afford to scrape or scramble for crumbs left by the brain drain when the country is hit by the next pandemic,” he added.

Under House Bill 9513, the funds of GOCCs determined to be over their current administrative and operational expenses, benefit obligations, or reserve requirements, may be used to implement the vital purposes under the unprogrammed appropriations. . Maricel V. Cruz

Meanwhile, under the current laws, unprogrammed appropriations in the national budget are only funded by the following:

• Excess revenue collection in any non-tax revenue source from its corresponding revenue collection target as reflected in the Budget of Expenditures and Sources of Financing;

• New revenue collection or those arising from new tax or non-tax sources which are not part of, nor included in, the original revenue sources reflected in the Budget of Expenditures and Sources of Financing; and

• Approved loans for foreign-assisted projects.

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