Wednesday, August 19, 2020

PhilHealth mafia

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered Undersecretary Jesus Melchor Quitain to conduct the probe, the Palace said Friday.

A “mafia” involving the whole of Philippine Health Insurance Corp.'s executive committeee has stolen some P15 billion from the agency using different fraudulent schemes, resigned PhilHealth anti-fraud legal officer Thorrsson Montes Keith alleged during a Senate investigation on Tuesday, Aug. 4.

Malacañang is investigating the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation after a lawyer resigned from the agency, citing widespread corruption and other irregularities.

A whistleblower on Tuesday claimed that Health Secretary Francisco Duque 3rd was the “godfather” of the alleged mafia in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).

Thorrsson Keith, the state insurer’s former anti-fraud officer, made the claim when he physically attended the resumption of the Senate investigation of alleged anomalies in PhilHealth.

Morales stressed that there’s no massive corruption in PhilHealth and challenged Keith to “come up with the evidence and file the case.”

Keith also opposed the PhilHealth contribution being imposed on overseas Filipino workers, but Morales said this is still being discussed in the government, particularly by a joint oversight congressional committee.

Sen. Ana Theresia “Risa” Hontiveros said Duque must explain his alleged links and inaction on PhilHealth corruption.

“As Health Secretary and as Chairman of the PhilHealth board of directors, Secretary Duque cannot wash his hands of the corruption in PhilHealth and the billions of pesos in public health funds that have been abused and misused,” she said.

“He can’t say that he doesn’t know of any irregularities, because it is his duty to know and stop such things,” Hontiveros said

She noted that at a Senate hearing in August 2019, Dr. Roy Ferrer, former acting PhilHealth president, said that Duque knew about the so-called PhilHealth mafia supposedly exercising inordinate influence in the agency.

Another PhilHealth official, Senior Vice President Dennis Adre, also testified that he wrote a letter to Duque in February 2018, after the DoH secretary asked for advice on what measures may be taken “to deal with fraud in the agency.”

Amid the coronavirus crisis, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon questioned PhilHealth’s “overpriced” COVID-19 testing package, saying the government could lose ₱8 billion. PhilHealth later slashed the price, saying supply and demand have improved.

Several hospitals complained that PhilHealth owed them billions of pesos, but the agency's officials said this may be due to the denial of some claims due to lack of data and other requirements.

Phil​Health also figured in a “ghost” dialysis scam last year, where government funds were allegedly used for nonexistent kidney treatments. Duterte asked for the resignations of top PhilHealth officials following the insurance fraud scandal, which led to the hiring of Morales as its new chief.

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