New chief opposes PhilHealth privatization

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    NEW Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) president and CEO Dante Gierran yesterday opposed President Duterte’s idea of privatizing the state insurance firm, saying doing so would adversely affect poor patients the most.

    “We respect the wisdom of the President but you know, kung i-privatize po ang PhilHealth, anong mangyari sa ating mga miyembro? (If you privatize PhilHealth, what will happen to our members?),” he told the House committee on public accounts chaired by Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Michael Defensor.

    Senate President Vicente Sotto III earlier said the President is considering either abolishing or privatizing PhilHealth because of the massive corruption in the agency.

    Gierran, former NBI chief who assumed the new post just two weeks ago, said while PhilHealth can extend assistance to non-members, it will be a different story once the private sector takes over it.

    Gierran said privatizing PhilHealth would also send the wrong signal that the government is inutile and only the private sector can do a good job in running the agency.

    “Are we telling the people of the Philippines and the world na ang mga tao lang sa pribado ang marunong magtrabaho nang tama? Hindi marunong ang mga taga-gobyerno tulad natin? (Are we telling the people of the Philippines and the world that only those in the private sector can do it? That people in the government like us can’t?),” he said.

    He added: “Wow, hindi maganda yan (it is not good),” he said. “It will send a wrong signal to our people that people in the government cannot be trusted.”

    Justice Undersecretary Adrian Ferdinand Sugay told the panel that the probe into the PhilHealth corruption is still ongoing and that a strong case is being readied against its corrupt officials, particularly those behind irregular fund releases under the Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM).

    Congressmen have been urging Gierran to scrap the package rates system and the IRM.

    They said the state insurer should reimburse hospitals and other healthcare facilities only the “actual cost” of treatment and hospitalization of patients, and to set the case rates as “cost limits.”

    Gierran replaced Ricardo Morales who resigned at the height of investigations into allegations of corruption in the agency, which has reportedly led to the loss of billions in funds.