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Bill seeks to revamp PhilHealth after graft charges approved

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PHILSTAR

A SENATOR has filed a bill seeking to reorganize the Philippine-Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) after President Rodrigo R. Duterte approved corruption charges against top officials.

Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III filed Senate Bill 1829, which will amend the Universal Healthcare Act and replace the Health secretary with the Finance chief as chairman of the state insurance company’s board. The Health chief will remain a board member.

The PhilHealth chairman must be present at all board decisions and cannot be represented by an alternate.

Mr. Duterte on Monday approved graft charges against former PhilHealth President Ricardo C. Morales, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Arnel de Jesus, Senior Vice Presidents Jovita V. Aragon, Renato Limsiaco, Jr. and Israel Francis A. Pargas, Officer in Charge Calixto Gabuya, Jr. and division chief Bobby A. Crisostomo.

The palace task force headed by the Justice department cleared Health Secretary and PhilHealth Chairman Francisco T. Duque III and Senior Vice President Rodolfo del Rosario.

Investigators also sought administrative charges against the officials for dishonesty, gross neglect of duty and misconduct, falsification of public documents, disloyalty, inefficiency and incompetence, Mr. Duterte said.

The Senate committee of the whole earlier sought graft and malversation charges against Mr. Duque, Mr. Morales and other executives after they were accused of favoring some ineligible hospitals that benefited from anti-coronavirus funds.

At least 17 senators also signed a resolution urging Mr. Duque to resign for failing to contain the pandemic.

The Senate body found gross overpricing of equipment bought by PhilHealth and favoritism in the release of so-called interim reimbursement mechanism funds.

The mechanism allowed the agency to grant advance payments to health institutions by up to three months during the pandemic, even if only P1 billion had been liquidated.

Former PhilHealth anti-fraud legal officer Thorsson Keith earlier told senators at a hearing the agency’s top officials had pocketed P15 billion through fraudulent programs.

PhilHealth officials have denied any wrongdoing. — Charmaine A. Tadalan





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