Palace: No PhilHealth funds used as treasure chest

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — NO funds of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) were ever used as treasure chest for the Arroyo regime.

Thus assured Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya.

Andaya reacted to reports that the government’s failure to settle its P19.2 billion debt to the PhilHealth would make the institution bankrupt in 10 years or until 2016.

Andaya said that the DBM will not allow the PhilHealth to go bankcrupt and for its members not to be able to receive their due benefits.

The DBM chief also stressed that PhilHealth remains solid and sustainable, citing the P6.8 billion projected income by end of 2009 on top of its reserve fund of P63 billion.

Andaya also noted that the PhilHealth’s income doubled in 2008 from its budget of P5 billion in 2001.

Andaya stressed that he welcome any Senate inquiry, pointing out that he will comply on explaining the fund disbursements for PhilHealth.

In fact, the budget official said that Legarda’s inquiry is not politically tainted in the wake of the 2010 elections where the lady senator has already hinted about her presidential bid, adding that she is simply doing her job as lawmaker.

The PhilHealth on the other confirmed that DBM has remitted to them arrears of P388 million in 2006, P85 million in 2007, and P610 million from the general appropriaitons act (GAA).

Earlier, PhilHealth vice president for actuary Nerissa Santiago told a Senate committee hearing that the “life of fund” of the agency would last only until failed to 2016 if the government settle its obligations.

“Based on our study as of 2008… without increasing the contribution rate… and considering the projections based on what we perceived would be the membership for the next 10 years or so, the life of the fund is only until 2016,” Santiago told the committee.

“Considering that we don’t receive the arrears and also if we’re not able to cover those who are in the informal sector , which as of now is under voluntary basis,” she added.

Santiago said PhilHealth must increase its premium contribution and improve its collection to be able to address this problem.

Despite government’s failure to pay its obligations, committee chairman Senator Loren said government employees who are paying their counterpart share would still be covered by the insurance.

Employees paying their share of contributions can still avail of healthcare benefits as mandated by law, said Legarda, requesting a list of government institutions not remitting their share.