MANILA Lawmakers from both the Senate and the House of Representatives on Tuesday condemned the "ghost dialysis scandal hounding the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) and urged the government to impose sanctions against all those involved.
In a television interview, Senator Sonny Angara described the latest controversy surrounding the state-run health insurance firm as both "highly-illegal and immoral".
The issue of ghost dialysis treatments was particularly condemnable because it took away funds meant for sick and poor people, he said.
"It's a bit disturbing. Aside from being a bit of a political issue, it's also a moral issue because this money is meant for very poor and sick people," Angara added.
Pointing out that hospitals and wellness centers could not make fake claims without the help of PhilHealth insiders, the senator said all those involved in the scam should be punished.
"We need some punitive measures we need to punish all those who are guilty, Angara said.
Meanwhile, the lawmaker also called on the government to institute needed reforms to put an end to the perennial problem of bogus claims and other irregularities in the agency.
"Every now and then, there's a scam that pops up," he said, citing earlier fraudulent claims for cataract surgeries and pneumonia that hounded PhilHealth.
It is high time for PhilHealth to be transformed into a really professional insurance corporation by bringing in more managers and fraud investigators to ensure the company's overall financial viability while fulfilling its obligation to provide health care protection to all Filipinos, Angara said.
Charge perpetrators with economic sabotage
At the House of Representatives, two party-list congressmen also urged the government to file criminal cases against the perpetrators of the scam.
Senior Citizen Representative Francisco Datol said the Department of Justice (DOJ) should file charges of "economic sabotage through large-scale estafa" against everyone who participated in the elaborate scam.
"The massiveness, elaborate, and conspiratorial nature of their crimes constitute economic sabotage because they can seriously impair the proper delivery of health security service to all Filipinos. This is why economic sabotage should be the charge and why those responsible must never get out of jail after the final judgment of conviction," Datol said.
He added that the DOJ must ensure that the criminal and civil charges against the fraudsters are ironclad so that they to do not escape justice.
"They should assign their best prosecutors to ensure that these criminals do not go free," Datol said.
On the other hand, newly-elected Citizens' Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC) Rep. Eddie Villanueva described the scam as an outright misuse of public health insurance funds, adding that those liable for the corrupt practices should not be allowed to remain at large.
We strongly condemn the outright misuse of public health insurance funds happening between involved PhilHealth and WellMed officials. With respect to the rule of law, we call for an investigation to take place regarding this scam so that those responsible are rightfully put behind bars, he said.
It is important to file criminal actions against the people who knowingly or unknowingly allow this problem to take place and continue in exploiting people's hard-earned money. We will not allow real and needy patients to be robbed of the benefits and medical treatments while those who are liable for such corrupt practices remain at large. Villanueva said. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency