Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros today called for an urgent and comprehensive investigation on the funds being used and released by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) after reports revealed that PhilHealth funds may been misused to pay for the dialysis treatments of non-existent patients.
Hontiveros, vice-chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, made the statement following claims made by whistleblower Edwin Roberto who said that PhilHealth has been approving questionable claims and releasing payments for ghost dialysis, or dialysis treatments which were never done, to the benefit of fraudulent clinics.
“The gravity of the recent allegations should prompt government to check if every peso under the PhilHealth is indeed being used in a manner compliant with laws and the PhilHealth’s mandate. We cannot allow fraud and greed to impede the effective delivery of health services to the people,” she said.
Hontiveros, a former board member of Philhealth from 2014 to 2015, said that if the allegations are true, then the ghost dialysis scheme not only defrauds funds from government, but also deprives countless Filipinos of the chance to avail of free treatments which may improve their health, if not save their lives.
She noted that according to Roberto, a former employee of a laboratory center in Quezon City, the scheme works by filing and collecting claims for dialysis treatment not only of dead persons but also of actual living patients who have not completed their treatments. The scheme also involves claiming payments from PhilHealth under the dialysis package even when other treatments were actually performed.
“This scheme not only steals funds from government, but may have also led to the deaths of people who would have otherwise benefited from PhilHealth’s programs. A response from government is needed,” she said.
She added that the cases of fraud and abuse of the government’s health insurance system must be fixed before the implementation of the Universal Healthcare Act, which will provide all Filipinos membership in a universal health insurance program which they can use to avail of health services.
“The funds under our national health insurance program are supposed to empower our people especially the poor and bring them closer to affordable and effective healthcare. Any misuse of these funds is a betrayal of this vital mission, and must be stopped,” Hontiveros concluded.
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