EDITORIAL - Abolish PhilHealth?
EDITORIAL - Abolish PhilHealth?
(The Philippine Star) - October 1, 2020 - 12:00am

There is reason for President Duterte to be exasperated over the string of corruption-related anomalies reported in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. Last year, amid a scandal over the payment of dialysis claims of PhilHealth members who are already dead, the President replaced Roy Ferrer, a doctor of internal medicine, with retired Army brigadier general Ricardo Morales.

A year later, amid a raging pandemic, Morales himself has exited PhilHealth, as the state insurer is embroiled in an even bigger corruption scandal, with top officials of the agency implicated in the alleged anomalies. Malacañang has said that Morales, in his retirement, could focus on his battle with cancer.

As an indication of the current priorities in PhilHealth, the President has appointed a retired director of the National Bureau of Investigation, Dante Gierran, to replace Morales and clean up the agency.

Even with a housecleaning underway, the President lamented last Monday that PhilHealth seemed so rotten to the core that the only remedy is to abolish it and replace it altogether with a new office. Palace officials have since provided nuance to the President’s statement, reassuring worried PhilHealth employees that they are not about to lose their jobs.

PhilHealth services are in fact critical in this pandemic. But ensuring clean and efficient delivery of PhilHealth services is equally important, particularly because the pandemic has significantly limited the financial resources of the government. PhilHealth also plays a major role in implementing the Universal Health Care law.

As of yesterday, officials of the task force created to look into PhilHealth anomalies said they were inclined to recommend the reorganization rather than the abolition of the state health insurer. The task force should also see to it that those involved in corruption in the agency will be prosecuted and meted appropriate punishment. There cannot be sacred cows in this housecleaning.

In all government agencies, the failure to punish those who have stolen people’s money is the biggest reason for the persistence of corruption. This trend should not be repeated in the cleanup of PhilHealth.

PHILHEALTH
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