DAVAO

Official: Universal Health Care law may rid fraud



WHILE the Universal Health Care (UHC) law’s implementing rules and regulations (IRR) is being finalized, an official hopes fraudulent practices will no longer happen in the implementation of the UHC law.

Health assistant secretary for field and implementation and coordination for Visayas and Mindanao Dr. Abdullah Dumama Jr. said while the PhilHealth “ghost dialysis” expose last June this year fell before the UHC law was yet to be implemented, he cannot say that it is a “blessing in disguise” because there is no final verdict on the case yet.

“I cannot say this will really clear cut corruption because it has to be proven, although there are some proofs already pero dapat may finality siya (there must be finality on the case),” Dumama said on Friday, July 19, in an ambush interview during the UHC Act IRR Public Consultation forum at the Royal Mandaya Hotel.

Last month, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the resignation of former PhilHealth Roy Ferrer and six appointed board members after a national broadsheet exposed that WellMed Dialysis and Laboratory Center files benefit claims with PhilHealth on behalf of dead patients.

Ferrer was formally replaced by retired army general Ricardo Morales as PhilHealth chief on June 19.

Dumama said the issue was “a lesson learned” for officials to avoid corrupt practices.

He also said the internal cleansing in the ranks of PhilHealth is valid because the money contributions poured on the national insurance company will benefit all Filipinos, now that the UHC will soon be implemented.

“‘Di pwedeng may mga fraudulent practices kasi ang mag-susuffer yung mga taong miyembro dapat ng PhilHealth (There should be no fraudulent practices in the first place because the PhilHealth members will suffer),” Dumama said.

Duterte signed the UHC bill on February this year, which mandates an automatic enrollment of Filipinos to PhilHealth and access to quality health services.

The UHC needs a total funding of more than P257 billion in its first year of implementation.

At present, the available funds amounting to P189 billion includes P105 billion from the 2019 proposed Department of Health (DOH) budget, P67 billion from the 2019 proposed national subsidy for PhilHealth Premiums, P3 billion coming from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) and P14 billion from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor).

Principal author former senator JV Ejercito urged the government to fast-track its implementation.

Meanwhile, Dumama said they are reaching out to different stakeholders in the entire country to help craft the IRR for a smooth implementation.

“We gathered lahat ng opinions pagkatapos yung suggestions and comments isahin and i-fifinalize namin for the IRR. The IRR technical working group is working hard. Ilang buwan na tayong nag-iikot (sa buong bansa) (We gathered all the suggestions and comments which will be utilized in the finalization of the IRR. The IRR technical working group is working hard in finalizing it. We have been touring across the country to gather their opinions.),” he said.

He said the consolidation of suggestions will be done on the first week of August this year. (RGL)


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