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PhilHealth assessing impact of PCSO games suspension to UHC funding

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By Betheena Unite 

Amid the sudden order of the President to ban all gaming schemes of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) is closely looking into its impact on the implementation of the Universal Health Care.

The PCSO is among the identified sources of funds for the implementation of the Universal Health Care and the suspension of all its gaming schemes may affect the health care system, which is already facing uncertainties with a possible funding shortfall.

Philhealth President, retired army general Ricardo “Dick” Morales, answers questions during a media forum at the Philhealth Head Office in Pasig City, July 9, 2019. Morales’ appointment came as PhilHealth faced controversy over alleged ghost claims by a dialysis clinic and as the agency girded for the implementation of the Universal Health Care law. (MARK BALMORES / MANILA BULLETIN)

Philhealth President Ricardo Morales (MARK BALMORES / MANILA BULLETIN)

PhilHealth President and Chief Executive Officer Ricardo Morales said that with the recent turn of events, they are already closely monitoring its impact as “funds from the PCSO is supposed to support the implementation of the Universal Health Care.”

Morales, however, said that the Department of Finance “will provide solutions” if the suspension will potentially interrupt the implementation of the health care system.

“PhilHealth can only spend money if there is money. Finding that money is someone else’s worry,” Morales said.

PhilHealth Spokesperson Shirley Domingo, on the other hand, said as they look into the situation closer, they are also waiting for further details from Malacanang.

“We don’t know yet all details of the closure. We have to wait for further advice from Malacanang on the fate of PCSO and its resources before we can assess the impact of this on the long term goals of the Universal Health Care,” Domingo said.

“We have confidence that whatever Malacanang decides [on] was thought of including effects on all concerned (agencies),” Domingo added.

The Universal Health Care program will be first implemented in 2020 with an estimated cost of P258 billion. The government can cover this phase through its current funding sources from the national budget, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. and the PCSO in the amount of P195 billion.

Starting Saturday, lotto outlets and betting stalls for Small-Town Lottery and other forms of gambling licensed by the PCSO across the country were shut down after President Duterte declared that lotto and other PCSO-licensed games are illegal due to reports of massive corruption in the agency.

Read more: Duterte: Lotto, STL now illegal because of corruption

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