HEALTH SECRETARY Francisco T. Duque III supports the proposed bill that will transfer the job of Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) chair to the Department of Finance chief.
Mr. Duque, speaking on Monday before the Senate committee on health and demography tackling the bill that will amend the Universal Health Care (UHC) Act, said he has missed the PhilHealth board’s meeting for four months due to the demands of his role as head of the national task force handling the government’s coronavirus pandemic response.
“For this year 2020, I was not able to attend board meetings of PhilHealth for about close to four months, on account of my having been designated as chairperson of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) of Emerging Infectious Diseases,” Mr. Duque said at the online hearing.
“My chairmanship of the IATF has been and continues to be very demanding. We meet two to three times a week, each meeting lasts about 10-12 hours,” he added.
The Health secretary said Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III is fit for the task of ensuring efficient fund management of the state insurer.
Senate Bill No. 1829, which amends the Universal Health Care Act under Republic Act No. 11223, was filed as part of the Senate’ recommendations from its investigations on the alleged widespread corruption in PhilHealth.
Apart from changing the PhilHealth chairman of the board, the bill also requires attendance in all board actions.
Under the current law, the PhilHealth chair can be represented by an alternate.
Mr. Dominguez, for his part, said he will accept the position despite his “overwhelming” task as finance chief, who is a member of “about a hundred” boards and committees.
“We have no choice but to implement it, I do not seek this position, but I take policies and the law very seriously, rest assured that I will do my best in implementing the UHC,” he told the panel.
“It would be very difficult to reallocate my time, but I will ask probably to be excused from some other less pressing assignments,” he said.
Implementation of the UHC, which automatically makes all Filipinos PhilHealth members, started this year. — Charmaine A. Tadalan