THE Supreme Court has dismissed for lack of merit Kilusang Mayo Uno’s petition opposing increased Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) premium rates for 2014.
The SC ruled there was “no basis to grant the writ of certiorari prayed for” by KMU. The petitioners assailed PhilHealth Circular Nos. 0027, 0025, and 0024, all series of 2013, which adjusted the premium contribution rates for the National Health Insurance Program, for allegedly being issued with grave abuse of discretion.
The SC also dropped then President Benigno Aquino III as respondent and underscored the settled principle that a sitting head of state enjoys immunity from suit during his actual tenure. It added that the petition “contains no allegations as to any specific presidential act or omission that amounted to grave abuse of discretion.”
The Court held that petitioners’ took the wrong remedy. Certiorari, it stressed, is a remedy of last resort available only when there is no appeal or any plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.
“This Court does not have administrative supervision over administrative agencies, nor it is an entity engaged in making business decisions. We cannot interfere in purely administrative matters nor substitute administrative policies and business decisions with our own,” the Court said.
Furthermore, it held that even if the procedural issues are disregarded, the petitions still failed to show that PhilHealth gravely abused its discretion in issuing the assailed circulars. On the contrary, PhilHealth acted with reasonable prudence and sensitivity to the public’s needs, having postponed the rate increase several times to relieve the public of the burden of simultaneous rate and price increases.
The Court ruled that the petition is devoid of substantial basis.
It held that PhilHealth justified the increase in annual premium rates with the enhanced benefits and the expanded coverage of medical conditions. This reasonable decision to widen the coverage of the Program – which led to increased premium rates – is a business judgment that this Court cannot interfere with. It stressed that the assailed contribution schedule, as a whole, remains equitable and progressive.
On allegations of PhilHealth’s alleged award of P1.5 billion in bonuses to its top officials and employees in 2012, the Court stressed that it cannot encroach on the Commission on Audit’s jurisdiction.
The Court dismissed as “very irresponsible” petitioners’ allegations of unconscionable bonuses to PhilHealth executives and their unethical expenditures of funds because they did not even bother to annex any document to support their factual claims. Even if the allegations were true, the Court said that it does not have the power to audit the expenditures of the Government or any of its agencies and instrumentalities.
PhilHealth issued all three assailed circulars on September 30, 2013, fully implementing the new premium rates for 2014.