Salceda pushes systemic reforms in PhilHealth

Health, National, News

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda has filed House Bill 7578, or the Philhealth Reform Act of 2020, which seeks to overhaul PhilHealth’s structure and operation to root out corruption in the agency and ensure universal health care for its beneficiary members.

The bill proposes systemic reforms in the fees’ collection system, management of its reserve fund, distribution and verification of claims and benefits, and other aspects of the agency’s corporate governance.

It also proposes a premium contribution scheme that is progressive by linking the premium contribution to the income tax rate of its members. Salceda said this will potentially save minimum wage earners at least P4,800 a year in premiums by paying only P100 monthly in minimum contributions

The scheme will also effectively exempt overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from paying premium contributions since they do not earn their income in the Philippines and will not be able to use the services of PhilHealth.

“We are tying the premium contribution to income and are ending the income ceiling system. Under the old scheme, the more you earn above the ceiling, the less you pay as a share of income. This is not progressive. We are improving the system by linking it with income,” Salceda said.

The bill also seeks to reform PhilHealth’s governance structure by making the Secretary of Finance as Chairman of its Board. Salceda noted that as an insurance and investment agency, PhilHealth needs the same caliber of management in the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).

To institute reforms in PhilHealth’s investment reserve fund management, HB 7578 seeks to make the Bureau of Treasury as its fund manager who will ensure that net income from investments accrues to the reserve fund. It likewise seeks to remove the two-year ceiling in fund life.

To prevent fraud in case reporting, the bill mandates the creation of the national health database of all claims and benefits requested from and granted by  PhilHealth. The  “one-patient, one-record” principle will be followed, and an independent audit of the PhilHealth shall be required.

HB 7578 likewise mandates the PhilHealth president to report to the President of the Philippines and to Congress on measures taken to address adverse audit findings. The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee earlier recommended the sacking of all PhilHealth regional directors following allegations that they were part of a mafia manipulating the state insurer’s financial records.

Several officials are being accused of being members of the so-called PhilHealth “mafia” that allegedly manipulate the agency’s financial records.

President Duterte directed his newly appointed PhilHealth president and chief executive officer Dante Gierran to undertake a widescale reshuffle on the agency. Gierran replaced former PhilHealth chief and CEO Ricardo Morales who resigned on Aug. 26 for health reasons. (With PNA)

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