Press Releases

Salceda on Philhealth management reforms: Transfer out of DOH ‘just a start;’ Need “more thorough” institutional reform

June 25th, 2023

House Ways and Means Chair Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay, 2nd district) says that the proposal to transfer the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) from the Department of Health to the Office of the President to increase the agency’s efficiency “is just a start and we in Congress need to work on more thorough reforms to the system.”

“It’s a good first step. It’s the first step to improving financial governance and investment management. It will ensure that the management is more holistic and whole-of-government. The Philhealth is a social insurance agency first and foremost, not a hospital.”

The proposal to transfer the agency was confirmed as a priority by newly-appointed Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa.

“And President Marcos can certainly do that even if the Chairperson remains the Secretary of Health. The Philhealth Board is inter-agency and purely within the executive. The Administrative Code allows him to ‘transfer agencies to the Office of the President from other departments or agencies.’ That’s Chapter 10, Section 31.”

“I really think it’s will be better managed as part of the family of social protection agencies under the Secretary of Finance. But unfortunately, I don’t think he can transfer agencies from one department to another. Just from one department to his Office proper.”

“Of course, the President consults the Secretary of Finance, and I suppose placing it under the Office of the President can help mediate both finance and health concerns, and ensure both of them are considered,” Salceda added.

“But in the long-term, to effect the proposal to transfer Philhealth to the Secretary of Finance, we need an act of Congress.”

Transfer of office “first patch”

Salceda however characterized that the transfer of the agency to the Office of the President “is a welcome first patch, but we need to solve its underlying institutional issues.”

The House tax chair pointed out that the key issues in the management of the Philhealth are “probable fraud in the payment of case rates, the proportionality of the case payments with the expenses involved medical cases, and the effectiveness of its investment policies.”

Salceda also said the issue of equity among Overseas Filipino Workers needs to be addressed.

“They are among the most diligent payers, since they can’t leave without paying their PhilHealth dues, but it is frankly useless to them abroad.”

Salceda is principal author of House Bill No. 52, or the Philhealth Insurance Act, which introduces comprehensive reforms to the governance of the health insurer.

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