House ready to review UHC law, PhilHealth contribution hike plan

The House of Representatives is ready to review the Universal Health Care Act and its implementing rules and regulations, particularly the scheduled increase in Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) contribution rates this year.

Speaker Lord Allan Velasco made the statement on Tuesday after President Rodrigo Duterte told PhilHealth CEO and President Dante Gierran to suspend the contribution hike to lessen the burden of Filipinos affected by the prevailing coronavirus pandemic.

“We laud President Rodrigo Roa Duterte for suspending the increase in PhilHealth premium contributions amid the Covid-19 crisis. The President has once again proved his sincere and genuine regard for the welfare of the Filipino people, especially in this time of pandemic,” Velasco said.

Velasco urged PhilHealth and the Department of Health to work closely with the legislature to ensure that Filipinos would not further be exposed to this “unnecessary burden” amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Duterte also vowed to “look for money” to fund Republic Act 11223 or the Universal Health Care (UHC) law and ensure that PhilHealth services remain unhampered.

“I will look for the money to fill it up. Maghanap tayo ng pera (Let’s look for money). Anyway, that is the job of the government to make it easy for everybody at this time, I said, of our lives,” he said in his Talk to the People Monday.

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, meanwhile, appealed to the government finance managers and fellow legislators to highly consider the temporary deferment.

Go said one option is to propose an amendatory bill that will specifically address the specific provision in the UHC law mandating the said increase.

Another option is to include a provision in the proposed Bayanihan 3 bill that would allow moving statutory deadlines and timelines for payments required by law such as, but not limited to, the increase and payment of PhilHealth premiums.

“Whether we amend the law or augment the funds of PhilHealth, let us work together to find a viable solution to achieve universal health care for all without imposing unnecessary burden to ordinary Filipinos during this challenging time,” he said.

Last week, PhilHealth announced its plan to push through with the scheduled contribution rate adjustment this year to ensure sufficient funding for its healthcare beneficiaries.

The premium is supposed to increase 3.50 percent of monthly basic salary from the current 3 percent which means that those earning below PHP10,000 will have a fixed contribution of PHP350 a month starting January 2021 while those earning PHP70,000 and higher per month will pay a fixed rate of PHP2,450 monthly.

Under the UHC law, the premium rate shall increase to increments of 0.5 percent every year starting 2021 until it reaches 5 percent in 2025

Source: Philippines News agency

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