MANILA — An incoming party-list lawmaker at the House of Representatives on Tuesday described the “ghost dialysis” scam hounding the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) as “worse than plunder,” urging the government to mete out the maximum penalties available to those involved.
In a statement, incoming Anakalusugan Representative Mike Defensor said criminal charges must be filed against all individuals, especially officials or personnel of PhilHealth, involved in the scam.
“Every centavo stolen means depriving another person’s life,” Defensor said.
“This is also gross negligence on the part of PhilHealth personnel who allowed this to happen. All persons involved in this scam must be held accountable and meted out the highest penalties provided by law. Those who usurp funds meant for the sick and the needy should be arrested and charged to prevent future occurrences of this nature,” he added.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier ordered PhilHealth to initiate the filing of cases against those involved in the payment of coverage for patients, who have long died, to a private wellness center in Novaliches, Quezon City.
The state insurance fund said it has already filed 28 administrative complaints against the WellMed Dialysis Center and Laboratory Corp.
Defensor, however, said filing an administrative complaint is not enough, and urged the filing of criminal charges.
Meanwhile, he said Anakalusugan will prioritize the amendment of existing laws to increase the penalties imposed on those who steal from PhilHealth.
Hee said Anakalusugan will call for a congressional probe to look into this scam and other anomalous transactions involving PhilHealth funds when the 18th Congress opens in July.
“We are also calling on the Commission on Audit to do a special audit on PhilHealth funds to put an end to these corrupt activities,” he said.
“This misuse of funds also highlights the need for constant vigilance in monitoring the implementation of the Universal Health Care, with its PHP257 billion budget. Anakalusugan will serve as the watchdog of ordinary Filipinos in Congress to ensure the leakages in PhilHealth now are not repeated at a grander scale with UHC,” Defensor said. Jose Cielito Reganit / PNA – northboundasia.com