Drilon wants IRM scrapped

    Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon (Photo from the Philippine Information Agency)

    SENATE minority leader Franklin Drilon yesterday called for the scrapping of the cash advance program of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. as he said all the state insurer should do is fast-track its payments of hospital reimbursements and claims.

    PhilHealth on Thursday last week announced the suspension of its interim reimbursement mechanism (IRM), a system under which PhilHealth pays hospitals and other healthcare facilities in advance for the insurance claims of PhilHealth members, to ensure their liquidity during crises, like the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The IRM has P30 billion in funds. PhilHealth has made advance payments of P14.9 billion to healthcare institutions but only around P1 billion has been liquidated.

    Based on Senate investigations and complaints, the IRM is being used for corrupt practices in the state agency.

    Drilon said PhilHealth does not need to give billions in cash advances to various hospitals under the IRM. What PhilHealth should do is speed up the reimbursement or payment of claims of the hospitals that treated COVID-19 patients but were excluded from the IRM.

    “They should improve their system and reimburse the hospitals on time. Then, there is no need for this IRM,” he said.

    He also said PhilHealth should require the hospitals that received the P14.9 billion in cash advances to liquidate the funds immediately.

    “Even the name interim reimbursement mechanism is a misnomer because this is not a system of reimbursement, but an advance – one with very weak liquidation procedure,” Drilon said.

    Drilon said the creation of IRM is the result of slow processing of payment claims in the agency, adding that based on reports, PhilHealth still owes hospitals around P18 billion in unpaid claims.

    The minority leader also said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III cannot escape liability being the chairman of PhilHealth.

    “Corruption has been going on under his nose for years yet we heard nothing from him. Did he do something to prevent it?” Drilon said in a separate statement.

    “First of all, what did he do to lessen, if not totally eradicate, these corruption and frauds in PhilHealth?” he added.

    It was Drilon who exposed the overpricing of PhilHealth Covid-19 test kits, which forced the health insurance agency to bring down the cost from P8,150 to P3,409. This saved the government over P9 billion, on the basis of a projected two million tests.