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PhilHealth may go bankrupt in 2022 if COVID pandemic remains, says official

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An official of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) has admitted that the company may no longer be able to sustain operations by 2022 amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.

During Tuesday’s inquiry of the Senate Committee of the Whole of the anomalies and corruption allegations in PhilHealth, Nerissa Santiago, PhilHealth’s acting Senior Vice President, said “because of the decreased contribution and increased COVID-19 payout, we are expecting by 2021, we will be on the ‘red’ alert.”

Santiago made the remarks when asked by Senate Minority Floor Leader Franklin Drilon about the state-insurance actuarial life given the increased utilization during the COVID-19 pandemic

“This is really a cause of concern for the entire country. I am dumbfounded,” said Drilon in response to Santiago

Santiago stressed that the PhilHealth can “only survive with additional subsidy coming from the government,” adding that from 10 years, the state-run insurance firm’s actuarial life has been reduced to a year due to the pandemic. There will supposedly be no more reserve funds by 2021.

Visibly shocked and concerned, Drilon clarified: “Are you saying in 2022, there will be no PhilHealth?”

Santiago answered in the affirmative, saying that the agency projects net operating losses at P90 billion for 2020 and if the pandemic persists by 2021, operating losses will total P147 billion. She said the PhilHealth system will “collapse” by then.

The veteran lawmaker then asked the PhilHealth to implement measures to prevent the collapse of the agency

Drilon added controversies continue to haunt PhilHealth because it does not follow simple auditing rules.

“We are in this mess because of Philhealth’s non-compliance with rules, including a simple COA rule. That is why we have all these problems because you disregard all the rules designed to protect public funds,” Drilon told PhilHealth President and Chief Operating Officer Ricardo Morales.

The Senate chief fiscalizer was referring to the Commission on Audit rule that no additional cash advances shall be allowed to any official or employee unless the previous cash advance given to him is first settled or a proper accounting thereof is made.

“Per COA rules, you must first liquidate before further advances be made,” Drilon reminded PhilHealth upon learning that the agency released about P15 billion to the hospitals from its controversial Interim Reimbursement Mechanisms even if only P1 billion was liquidated.

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