February 14, 2012
Senate to probe hike in PhilHealth monthly contributions
Sen. Ralph G. Recto yesterday said state-owned Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) should tell Congress why it was seeking a 100 percent increment in members' contributions despite its huge cash reserves and generous budgetary support.
"As I've said before, the planned increase in PhilHealth contributions is unnecessary, nevertheless I'm still asking the proper Senate committees to look into this and invite its officials to give their side," Recto, Senate ways and means committee chair, said.
Recto said PhilHealth is practically sitting on a P110 billion cash stash in the form of retained earnings while taxpayers will fork out some P12 billion in subsidy as provided in this year's national budget.
He said from January to November in 2011, PhilHealth was among the top agencies that have received the biggest slice of the P45.205 billion subsidies given out to state-owned corporations.
"If these amounts are not enough to turn in a good service and make healthcare more affordable to a greater number of people, the Senate should at least have an idea of what really ails PhilHealth, whether it's shortage of funds or loss of public service appetite," Recto said.
Recto added: "It is imperative for the officials of PhilHealth to present before this chamber its detailed financial statements, which include the total income and expenditures, and information on its retained earnings, in order to determine the need to increase the annual premium contributions."
The senator likewise expressed bewilderment over the stubborn insistence of PhilHealth to increase the contributions despite valid calls for its deferment and outright scrapping.
"PhilHealth is no better than an ICU patient who after a massive blood transfusion still asks for the key to the blood bank," Recto said.
Recto has earlier said that the planned hike in premium payments would hurt struggling small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
"And we're making it worse by increasing the premium payments of their workers, which are shouldered in part by them," Recto said adding that even local government units (LGUs) would be adversely affected by the plan and as a result, create havoc in their fiscal planning for the year.
Recto also said there was no consultation done on the planned increase in contributions.
He stressed PhilHealth should effect a freeze on the increase scheduled to take effect in the second quarter of the year while the Senate undertakes its own diligent inquiry.
In a circular approved by its board, PhilHealth premium contributions for new members will increase by 100 percent from P300 to P600 quarterly or a total of P2,400 per year.
Covered by the increase are members who are earning P25,000 a year based on their income tax returns.
Recto has tasked in his Senate Resolution the Senate committee on government corporations and public enterprises; and the committee on health to spearhead the probe.
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