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Tuguegarao gov’t sees P6M ghost PhilHealth claims

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines- As the investigation goes further, authorities here revealed they are looking into P6 million ghost claims of PhilHealth benefits, almost P4 million higher than the initial data the Tuguegarao city government discovered in January. (READ: P2.2M ghost Philhealth claims in Tuguegarao hospital: How it happened?)

In his interview with Bombo Radyo, acting vice Mayor Jude Bayona said more and more irregularities have been uncovered from their own investigation of the anomalous transactions inside the city-funded Tuguegarao City People’s General Hospital (TCPGH).

Bayona said the irregularities started as early as 2013 and up to the early part of 2017.

“It could amount to P6 million by now,” Bayona told the radio.

He also said investigations showed the doctor allegedly involved in the scam charged from Ph21,000 to Ph42,00 consultation fee per ghost patient. He said  he is amazed how a doctor can diagnosed all sorts of medical cases as documents showed.

Bayona did not name the doctor but a copy of the result of the initial investigation obtained by Forum showed that Dr. Christopher Ian Cabalza, a private practitioner and a visiting physician to TCPGH, had signed most of the anomalous claim eligibility forms.

However, in a phone interview in Saturday, March 25, PhilHealth regional director Oscar Abadu Jr said they have yet to “fully validate” the whole amount involve in the scam.

Abadu said they will still conduct further investigations and domiciliary visits to the alleged ghost patients.

Earlier, TCPGH administrator Dr. Ray Dulig told Forum a certain Marites Attaban, a casual hospital employee, “connived” with a visiting physician to process the ghost claims.

Damage payment

Mayor Benben De Guzman said the city government will be forced to pay the PhilHealth whatever amount is involved as an aftermath of a scandal which rocked this city since March.

De Guzman, after a city council hearing on the issue, on Wednesday, March 22, said he will look into the possibility of including the amount, allegedly between Ph2 million to Ph6 million, in the supplemental budget any month from now.

“The city government is the signatory to the contract between the Peoples General Hospital and PhilHealth and not individuals,” he said alluding to possible suspects in the anomalous transactions on health cards.

He added that the move is for the health agency to lift the accreditation suspension of the hospital.

However, the some residents were asking “why should the government pay PhilHealth” as a result of wrong doings by alleged individuals who were employed by the city government.

“That’s tantamount to double jeopardy. Let those proven guilty after a thorough investigation, pay themselves, not from people’s money,” a furious resident of the city told Forum in a message.

PhilHealth has cancelled the PGH here as an accredited hospital since it discovered the anomaly.

The city government has submitted a reconsideration appeal to PhilHealth as soon as the suspension came and the letter had been submitted by the latter to its head office in Manila, Abadu confirmed.

The legal department of the city government has asked for 15 days before it can submit its own investigation after PhilHealth documents have been submitted to the city council.

Affected members

Affected PhilHealth members have stopped trooping to the PGH for consultation and treatment after the former suspended the accreditation of the hospital since last week.

However, to remedy the situation, Mayor De Guzman said a resolution had been passed to the 7th City Council to allow affected members to write promissory notes for their consultations and treatment at the “hospital in crisis” pending investigation so as not to affect health of patients.

The resolution, however, was turned down by the Council. –Reports by Benjamin De Yro and Raymon Dullana/Northernforum.net

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