DoF assures PhilHealth getting support to fund universal health care

THE DEPARTMENT of Finance (DoF) and its attached agencies have been meeting with officials of Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) to help the agency with its financials and ensure sufficient funding for the Universal Health Care program.

In a budget hearing Friday, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III told the House of Representatives that it has met with the new PhilHealth chief to discuss the agency’s current cash position.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte last week appointed former National Bureau of Investigation Director Dante A. Gierran to head the agency after the resignation of Ricardo C. Morales.

State-run PhilHealth has warned it will run on a budget deficit starting this year up to 2024 as premiums slump and claims rise because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Investigations are also ongoing to hold officials liable for the agency’s lost funds due to alleged corruption.

Mr. Dominguez said the DoF  along with the National Treasury and the Insurance Commission have been closely coordinating with PhilHealth since October 2019 to ensure the implementation of the Universal Health Care program, which is estimated to require P257 billion in 2020, the initial year.

“While funding is a key component, improvements in their financial planning and control as well as actuarial systems are fundamental to the achievement of this goal. These will help plug all leakages so as to allow the funds from members’ premiums and the taxpayers to be utilized properly,” Mr. Dominguez said in a Viber message over the weekend. — Beatrice M. Laforga

Sotto anticipates task force findings on PhilHealth will align with Senate report

SENATE PRESIDENT Vicente C. Sotto III is convinced the findings of the task force led by the Department of Justice (DoJ) on anomalies in Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) will be consistent with that of the Senate’s committee of the whole.

“Tingin ko lahat ng mga rekomendasyon namin na kasuhan nila ay mafa-filan nila talaga, both criminal charges at administrative cases (I think most of our recommendations with regards to the cases, both criminal and administrative, will be filed),” Mr. Sotto said over DzBB on Sunday.

The committee’s recommendations include the replacement of Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III, who sits as PhilHealth chair, and the filing of charges against him and other high-ranking officials of the state insurer.

Mr. Sotto also said President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s trust on Mr. Duque may finally change with the conclusions of the different investigations.

“Maaaring nagtitiwala pa rin siya pero merong mga bagay na dapat mong harapin na labag sa batas, ganoon yun (He may still trust him, but there are things that violate the law that must be faced),” the senate leader said.

Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra, meanwhile, said on Saturday that their hearings on PhilHealth will wind up next week and the task force will start drafting its recommendations to Mr. Duterte by Sept. 14.

Mr. Duque and PhilHealth were also the subject of another Senate inquiry last year in relation to the alleged ghost dialysis scam.

Senator Richard J. Gordon, blue ribbon committee chairman, had disclosed that his recommendations include the abolition of PhilHealth and the filing of cases against the agency’s regional vice presidents.

The committee’s report, however, has yet to be endorsed in the plenary. — Charmaine A. Tadalan

DPWH completes 56% of planned 602 COVID-19 facilities

ONE of the most recent projects completed by the DPWH team tasked to augment national and local health facilities was the 151-bed capacity healthcare facility in Carmona, Cavite. — DPWH

THE DEPARTMENT of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has completed 340 projects for use as coronavirus facilities, representing 56% of the 602 total projects lined up nationwide. DPWH Undersecretary Emil K. Sadain, head of the team tasked to augment national and local health facilities, said the remaining projects are expected to be completed by end-October.

“There are 602 COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) facilities with 23,000 bed capacity nationwide, of which 340 are already completed and 262 will be finished towards the end of September and October,” Mr. Sadain said in a statement on Sunday.

The team is primarily in charge of supporting the national and local governments in converting available spaces into makeshift hospitals or setting up a modular healthcare facility.

Among the pending projects is the conversion of the Quezon Institute along E. Rodriguez Avenue in Quezon City into the first offsite modular hospital with a 110-bed capacity for moderate and severe COVID-19 cases.

Mr. Sadain said the engineering plans and procurement have been completed and “we are just waiting for the necessary permit from the Philippine Tuberculosis Society Board that will allow DPWH to start and ramp up the construction activities.”