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Legarda urges Congress to review utilization of 2017 and 2018 PhilHealth budget augmentation

August 14, 2020

Deputy Speaker and Antique Lone District Representative Loren Legarda urged the House Committees which are currently inquiring into the alleged unabated corruption in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to scrutinize the budgetary support given to Philhealth under the General Appropriations Act for Fiscal Years 2017 and 2018.

“The misuse of Philhealth funds is unconscionable especially during this time of the pandemic when the health of the people is on the line. As former Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance, I sponsored the augmentation of the PhilHealth budget by P3 billion under 2017 GAA to ensure that health services are also extended to indigent non-member patients through a Point of Service (POS) Program. I continued this under the 2018 budget for the same amount, and even included another P3.5 billion specifically for government employees because the health of the public deserves to be on top of government priorities,” Legarda said.

Legarda, principal author and sponsor of Republic Act No. 10606 or the National Insurance Act of 2013, said that the augmentation of PhilHealth budget under for Fiscal Years 2017 and 2018 sought to help fulfill the spirit of the law which was to ensure universal healthcare coverage for all Filipinos.

The House Committees on Public Accounts and Good Government and Public Accountability have conducted joint hearings on resolutions calling for an investigation into the allegations of corruption, fraudulent medical claims, mismanagement and negligence allegedly committed by officials of Philhealth.

“I urge the House Committees to dig deeper and expand their inquiry into the status of these amendments. The augmentations were supposed to cover all Filipinos, even those not yet enrolled in PhilHealth, those not formally employed, and those financially incapable to pay their membership contributions can still avail of free health services in government hospitals in the country,” Legarda said.

“It is intended to be a mandatory health care for the poor as everyone deserves to receive proper health care. I hope that these benefits have been made known to the poorest households who are the intended beneficiaries. This ongoing investigation will hopefully exact accountability from the concerned officials, deter anyone from furthering committing wrongful acts that will dissipate government resources and, more importantly, solutions will be arrived to introduce much needed reforms in this corporation. The progress of our country depends on how we create growth for the benefit of our people, especially those in the marginalized sectors and not just the growth of one’s pockets,” Legarda concluded. #