House of Representatives panel to probe corruption in PhilHealth

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A House of Representatives committee will investigate fresh corruption allegations against Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), a lawmaker said on Sunday.

Among those invited are officials of PhilHealth, the Department of Health (DOH), and former PhilHealth employee Thorrsson Montes Keith who quit his job due to “widespread corruption,” according to Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor.

Defensor, chairman of the committee on public accounts, said he would propose for PhilHealth to be billed the actual cost of treatment and for case rates to be declared as cost limits.

“The case-rate system, under which there is a fixed cost for the treatment of certain diseases and for procedures, is really a loophole that is resulting in billions of losses on the part of Philhealth. It is not surprising that it may be a source of corruption,” Defensor said.

Defensor urged PhilHealth officials to be on alert for several payment claims involving the same doctors, clinics or hospitals as he cited a 2019 Commission on Audit report that flagged a suspicious surge in cases and reimbursement claims in the agency.

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered an investigation into what is alleged to be “widespread corruption” in PhilHealth.

Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. revealed the President’s decision on Friday, following reports that three PhilHealth officials resigned over corruption in the agency.

Similar investigations are being prepared at the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Roque said the President had asked Undersecretary Jesus Melchor Quitain of the Office of the Special Assistant to the President to lead the Palace probe.

Roque confirmed he received a copy of the letter of  Keith, PhilHealth anti-legal fraud officer, who cited the “widespread corruption in PhilHealth” as among the reasons why he quit his post.

Roque urged Keith to back up his claims.

“We view the allegations of Mr. Keith a serious matter and therefore enjoin him and other officials to cooperate with the ongoing investigation,” he said./Stacy Ang

 

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