PhilHealth insists P15B not stolen

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    WHETHER liquidated or audited, what is certain is that funds of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) worth P15 billion were not stolen, the state insurer said yesterday.

    PhilHealth spokesman Rey Baleña said the funds were sent to member-hospitals to help sustain their operations.

    “The P15-billion issue? They went to the hospitals, partner facilities of PhilHealth, 711 in all nationwide. These funds were used to ensure that they are kept open, servicing our patients, who were affected by the pandemic,” said Baleña in a TV interview.

    “It wasn’t stolen because of the fact that the hospitals received them, the fact that the hospitals were able to use these funds for their services to our patients,” he added.

    Earlier, PhilHealth president Dante Gierran reported that 92 percent of the P15-billion fund that was allegedly stolen by some of its officials had been “liquidated.” But according to Sen. Ping Lacson, liquidation is not an audit and it does not automatically mean that the funds were legally disbursed.

    Baleña said the said funds sent to hospitals have been properly documented and are undergoing stringent evaluation.

    “These are all properly accounted for and, in fact, 92 percent of the said funds have already been liquidated. That is about P13.8 billion in all,” he said.

    “We are looking at each and every claim that the hospitals are submitting to us,” added the PhilHealth official.

    As to the remaining 8 percent, he said they expect hospitals to complete the submissions to be completed by next month.

    “We have given the hospitals some leeway in submitting their liquidation given the situation, the constraints that they are facing,” he said.

    “Perhaps by the middle of next month or before the end of next month, we will be reporting to the public a 100 percent liquidation,” added Baleña.

    The Senate last year conducted a series of hearings on the alleged corruption at PhilHealth, including the illegal disbursements of funds from the interim reimbursement mechanism (IRM), manipulation of financial statements, and overpriced purchase of IT equipment.

    A task force led by Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra is also conducting investigations and filed complaints last October before the Ombudsman against PhilHealth officials in relation to the IRM, a mechanism that grants financial aid to healthcare facilities or providers affected by calamities.

    A second complaint was filed by the NBI early this month in connection with alleged irregularities in the release of P33.8 million to a Taguig City-based dialysis center B. Braun Avitum.