MINORITY congressmen have sought an investigation of alleged corruption at the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

The House of Representatives should scrutinize the national budget for health, the biggest chunk of which goes to PhilHealth, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos T. Zarate, the deputy minority leader, told reporters yesterday.

Private service provider WellMed Dialysis & Laboratory Center Corp. allegedly had fraudulent medical claims from PhilHealth for deceased patients as well as patients who did not receive their full weekly treatments.

A former WellMed employee said the company had managed to exploit the claims because PhilHealth had relied on the service provider’s reports.

Meanwhile, Marikina Rep. Stella A. Quimbo said Congress should consider “giving competition” to PhilHealth by choosing another health insurance provider.

The representative said that Congress should consider allowing other insurance providers to compete for the service.

Congress should choose a health insurance provider that can do PhilHealth’s job “if within one year, reforms are not implemented and performance does not improve,” she said.

Ms. Quimbo said PhilHealth’s blunder would hinder the goals of universal health care. The implementing rules for universal health care should address issues of fraud, she added.

Meanwhile, Magsasaka Partylist Rep. Argel Cabatbat claimed some investigators of the alleged fraud at PhilHealth were being harassed.

The Senate has expressed an interest to probe Health Secretary Francisco H. Duque III for alleged conflict of interest involving a family company. Mr. Duque is also an ex-officio officer of PhilHealth.

In a complaint filed before the Office of the Ombudsman last June, the complainants alleged that PhilHealth’s had rented a private office in Dagupan City for half-a-million pesos a month.

The complaint-affidavit claimed the Health secretary was a stockholder of the company. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras