Malacañang on Thursday welcomed House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco’s decision to file two bills granting President Rodrigo Duterte power to suspend scheduled increases in Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) and Social Security System (SSS) contribution rates.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque noted that Duterte has already directed PhilHealth CEO and President Dante Gierran to defer the collection of higher contributions.
“Well, we appreciate that po. Pero inanunsiyo na po iyan ng Presidente, kahit ano pong mangyari, sinabihan na niya si President Gierran: Huwag kayong magtaas ngayon (But the President, whatever happens, already told President Gierran not to push through with the contribution hike),” he said.
Roque, a former lawmaker, acknowledged that a law may be necessary to address the specific provision in Republic Act 11223 or the Universal Health Care (UHC) Act mandating the said increase in PhilHealth contributions.
“Pero (But) I understand, as author of the Universal Health Care Law, baka kinakailangan iyang batas na iyan para maging legal basis. So maraming salamat po sa mga mambabatas (there might be a need for a law so that the suspension has a legal basis),” he added.
On Thursday, Velasco filed House Bills 8316 and 8317, which seek to amend the UHC Act and RA 11199 or the Social Security Act of 2018, respectively.
He called for the swift approval of the twin measures both aimed at alleviating the financial burden faced by Filipino workers amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) crisis.
Under the bills, the President may, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Department of Health and the Department of Finance as chairpersons of PhilHealth and SSS, respectively, “suspend the implementation of the scheduled increases in premium rates in times of national emergencies when the public interest so requires.”
In filing HB 8316, Velasco said suspending the imposition of the new PhilHealth premium rates will provide a much-needed relief from the negative effects of the pandemic and will assure Filipinos that the government is sensitive to their sentiments.
He said that in filing HB 8317, the temporary suspension of the hike in SSS contributions will help the workforce achieve faster recovery from the impact of the pandemic.
Under the UHC law, those who have a monthly basic salary of PHP10,000 and below will have a fixed contribution of PHP350 a month starting January 2021. Those earning PHP10,000.01 to PHP69,999.99 have a monthly premium between PHP350 to PHP2,449.99. Meanwhile, those earning PHP70,000 and higher per month will pay a fixed rate of PHP2,450 monthly.
The premium rate will increase to increments of 0.5 percent every year starting 2021 until it reaches 5 percent in 2025.
Source: Philippines News agency