Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said Thursday the controversial state insurer Philippine Health Insurance Corp. “may run out of money” by late 2021 or in early 2022 due in part to the agency’s inability to make secure projections of its fund life because of a poor information system.
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Dominguez made his statement even as PhilHealth Vice President for Operations Augustus De Villa on Thursday tendered his “irrevocable resignation” for reasons still unknown.
De Villa did not cite any reason for his resignation, but he vowed to cooperate with the congressional investigations on the alleged irregularities in the state-run insurance agency.
“The DoF has been in meetings with PhilHealth. We [earlier] told them that their current state of information system does not allow them to actually make secure projections on their fund life,” Dominguez said during the second-quarter’s GDP virtual press briefing.
“Because their information system is in shambles, we have told them this since October [of] last year.”
PhilHealth President and CEO Ricardo Morales, meanwhile, said if Senator Panfilo Lacson wanted his job, “by all means.”
“Perhaps he might be more effective,” said Morales as he reiterated that he was serving at the pleasure of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“If I’m not needed, I will just think it out, it’s not easy. There’s nothing I would want. But as a good soldier, I will follow.”
Lacson on Thursday challenged the “corrupt elements” at PhilHealth to declare a moratorium on corruption, at least during the pandemic.
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“Who knows, they might actually learn that it feels good not to be corrupt, and thus develop an aversion to corruption,” he said.
House Deputy Minority leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said “PhilHealth’s admission that its reserve fund would be used up by 2021 boltered the Makabayan bloc’s position that funds from the national budget should go directly to the hospitals and not to PhilHealth.”
“As it is, PhilHealth seems to be so entrenched in corruption and syndicates that it is hard for us to trust it with the people’s money,” Zarate said.
Dominguez said PhilHealth’s information system was not robust enough to capture the correct data.
“By late 2021 or 2022, they may run out of money. I believe P70-P80 billion this year is set to subsidize PhilHealth,” Dominguez said.
In an earlier Senate hearing, PhilHealth senior vice president for actuarial services and risk management sector Nerissa Santiago said for 2020, the agency was expecting a net operating loss of about P90 billion.
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She said if the COVID-19 pandemic persisted until next year and no vaccine was discovered, “we will incur about P147 billion in terms of operating loss.”
Santiago also said PhilHealth’s reserve fund had been depleting due to a lack of contributions and higher benefit payouts due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
PhilHealth has received the second-largest subsidy from the government for the month of June 2020, the Bureau of the Treasury said earlier.
Data showed that PhilHealth received P26.173 billion in June, trailing only by P5.077 billion the P31.250 billion allotted to the National Food Authority, the largest subsidy given to a state-run institution.
Other government institutions that had the largest subsidies for the month of June were the National Housing Authority with P7.46 billion; National Irrigation Administration with P2.45 billion; SBC, P500 million; Bases Conversion and Development Authority, P424 million, and Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, P262 million.
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The subsidy of P31.250 billion for the NFA was the largest given in the Major Non-Financial Government Corporations category for the month, while the P26.173 billion for PhilHealth was the biggest in Other Government Corporations category.
The significant subsidies for the NFA and PhilHealth for the month triggered a 132-percent jump in total subsidies for June 2020 to P69.161 billion from P29.799 billion in May 2020.
Meanwhile, in the first six months the Social Security System received the biggest subsidy at P51 billion (P25.5 billion each for April and May 2020) followed by the NFA, P37.65 billion; PhilHealth, P26.174 billion; NIA, P17.833 billion; Light Rail Transit Authority, P11.151 billion, and National Electrification Administration, P11.015 billion.
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The Senate has initiated its own investigations into the allegations of corruption within the agency following the resignation of Thorsson Montes Keith, the anti-legal fraud officer of PhilHealth, who cited “widespread corruption.”