Universal health budget deserves congressional support despite PhilHealth mess – Lacson


INVESTIGATOR / RICHARD A. REYES file photo

MANILA, Philippines – The 2021 budget for implementing the Universal Health Care Act (UHC) is still expected to gain full congressional support despite allegations of widespread corruption within the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), said Senator Panfilo Lacson.

“Despite PhilHealth’s blatant corruption, the 2021 universal healthcare budget deserves the full support of Congress,” Lacson said on Twitter Monday. “But we can make our health care program more meaningful by immediately jailing anyone who has stolen our money, directly or otherwise,” he added.

Last week, the House of Representatives began its deliberations on the 2021 national budget proposal of 4,506 billion pesos, which is 9.9% more than the 2020 budget.

Of this amount, PhilHealth, which is responsible for implementing CSU, is expected to receive 71.4 billion pesos.

The Senate is due to begin budget discussions this week.

PhilHealth has been implicated in new corruption allegations after a board member and a resigned anti-fraud officer claimed that a so-called PhilHealth “mafia” orchestrated large-scale corruption within the company for years.

The Senate plenary committee, which launched an investigation into allegations of corruption within the public insurer, recently recommended the filing of criminal charges against several officials, including Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, for unblocking allegedly illegal billions of funds under the agency’s Interim Repayment Mechanism (IRM).

MRI is an emergency cash advance measure from PhilHealth to provide hospitals with a crisis fund to respond to natural disasters, calamities and other unforeseen events.

Following controversies and allegations of favoritism in its implementation, PhilHealth suspended its MRI program but maintained that the reimbursement mechanism is “legal and necessary” for the country’s response to COVID-19.

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