36 tied to PhilHealth mess

Anti-corruption body readies raps for alleged ‘overpayments’ to hospitals

The Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) on Wednesday linked at least 36 officials of Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) to the overpayments allegedly made to hospitals.

READ: PhilHealth collapse feared

PACC commissioner Greco Belgica did not identify the officials, but their names have been forwarded to the Office of the President as part of its initial report into the alleged anomalies in the company.

Belgica says their recommendation to the Office of the President include dismissal from the service, the filing of charges before the Office of the Ombudsman, and reforms in the state insurer.

“The bulk of the problem at PhilHealth is that the hospitals keep claiming very high receivables that they [PhilHealth] do not validate,” Belgica said in a radio interview.

“And PhilHealth just pays and pays. It’s like being charged in a restaurant and paying without examining the bill.”

Belgica made his statement even as Senator Sonny Angara said immediate action should be taken to plug the loopholes in PhilHealth to stop its bleeding.

During the Senate’s inquiry into the alleged widespread corruption within PhilHealth, a former anti-fraud officer of the corporation claimed that more than P15 billion had been wasted or stolen over the years due to the rampant questionable transactions facilitated by a syndicate within the state insurer.

Angara described as “alarming” the huge amounts being lost due to alleged leakage or corruption in PhilHealth.

Senator Christopher Go called on the Ombudsman to probe the anomalies in PhilHealth, saying it was unacceptable that public funds intended to save lives were being wasted due to corruption.

He says the Ombudsman should establish accountability and hold those responsible for the mess at a time when the country is facing a pandemic.

“Please get to the bottom of this mess. We need to know who are behind this mess, and if ever there’s mafia, who they are,” Go said.

Former Anakpawis party-list Rep. Ariel Casilao said the corruption case in PhilHealth only exposes the rotten corruption under the Duterte administration and totally demolishes Duterte’s claim that former military officials “get things done.”

READ: Rody sets PhilHealth graft probe

He says the involvement of PhilHealth chief Ricardo Morales in the case again proves the systematic involvement of former military officials appointed by Duterte in graft and corruption.

READ: Rody won’t sack Morales just yet

He says Duterte’s line on dismissing public officials and employees involved in even a “whiff of corruption” in 2016 is a pathological lie.

Belgica says the corrupt activities in PhilHealth are taking place in the regions.

“The transactions in PhilHealth are per-region, and that’s where the corruption is,” he said.

“Probably, people already know how to take advantage of the situation, so that people send fraudulent claims. A simple cold becomes pneumonia, so that the charges become very high.”

PhilHealth president Ricardo Morales told a Senate inquiry on Tuesday that the fraudulent claims being paid by the state health insurer would significantly be addressed if its information technology system would be improved.

He said a membership database equipped with biometrics would help them weed out claimants who were no longer alive.

Belgica, meanwhile, reacted to the claim of resigned anti-fraud officer Thorrsson Montes Keith that he was ordered by Morales to talk to the PACC official to fix the issue of supposedly overpriced COVID-19 test kits.

“That can’t happen especially in my office. Anyone who attempts that will be arrested then and there,” Belgica said.

He said he could not remember meeting Keith.

READ: Senator: Mafia in Philhealth mess

READ: Solons to start Philhealth investigation on Wednesday

Topics: Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission , PhilHealth , overpayment , Greco Belgica
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