TO FUND UHC: Gov’t to fix PhilHealth woes

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    The Duterte administration intends to put the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) on a “solid financial footing” to allow the government to fully implement the Universal Health Care (UHC) Act, the country’s finance chief said.

    Carlos Dominguez, Department of Finance (DOF) secretary, said during the Development Budget Coordination Committee’s briefing for the House committee on appropriations Friday evening he met with the new PhilHealth chief to discuss the financial problems of the agency.

    Just last week, President Duterte announced the appointment of retired National Bureau of Investigation chief Dante Gierran as the new PhilHealth president and chief executive officer to succeed Ricardo Morales, who resigned for medical reasons.

    “We met (Friday morning) and will meet again on Tuesday for a pre-board meeting and on Thursday for the board meeting,” Dominguez said.

    A PhilHealth official earlier claimed the actuarial life of the agency was reduced to one year from 10 years due to the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.

    However, Dominguez previously said the agency needs to improve its information system to make a proper projection on its actuarial life, pointing out that the system is “in shambles.”

    “We have told them that the current state of the information system does not allow us to actually make secure projections on the fund life,” Dominguez said last month.

    “As of now, I will take the word that probably by 2021, late 2021, or late 2022, they may run out of money. And that is why we have in our budget for this year, I believe it is around P70 or P80 billion to subsidize PhilHealth,” the finance chief said.

    Dominguez said in the long term, “we have to fix up the administration of PhilHealth in order to be able to get a good handle of what exactly their liabilities and fund life are.” “We are taking these issues of the PhilHealth very seriously, and this administration fully intends to put PhilHealth on a solid financial footing that will allow us to fully implement the UHC Act,” Dominguez said.

    He added the DOF team, composed of an undersecretary, the national treasurer and a deputy commissioner of the Insurance Commission, has been working closely with PhilHealth since October 2019 to achieve the President’s goal of providing UHC. “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,” Dominguez said.

    “These will help plug all leakages so as to allow the funds from members’ premiums and the taxpayers to be utilized properly,” he added. (A. Celis)