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Senate bill filed to suspend PhilHealth contribution hike

By: Daphne Galvez - | July 11,2022 - 12:05 PM

Facade of a PhilHealth office

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Grace Poe has filed a bill seeking to allow to President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.  to suspend the increase in contributions to the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).

Poe said the suspension of the contribution increase would spare the Filipinos from additional burden at a time when the country is fighting a pandemic, as struggling with the soaring prices of basic needs.

“The hike comes at a time when our people continue to grapple with the impact of the pandemic and the soaring prices of basic needs,” Poe said in a statement on Monday.

“Right now, we must heed their distress call for food to feed their families and jobs to help them get by, with the least burden and utmost support from the government,” she added.

Poe’s bill seeks to give the President the power to suspend the increase in premium contributions  upon the recommendation of the PhilHealth board during a state of national emergency or public health emergency or state of national calamity.

The measure, which seeks to amend the Universal Health Care  (UHC) law, provides that the mandated contribution hike may be implemented upon the lifting of the above conditions.

“By giving the President the power and authority to suspend such increases in times of need, we are also providing our countrymen a critical lifeline,” Poe said.

She said she hopes her bill will be given due attention so that the contribution hike, which started in June this year, will be halted.

The premium rate being collected is at 4 percent from the previous 3 percent.

Since the hike was retroactive from January,  this means that on top of the increased contributions, PhilHealth members would also have to pay an additional premium of 1 percent from January to May.

Under the UHC law, the premium rate should increase by 0.5 percent yearly, starting from 3 percent in 2020 until it hits 5 percent.

In January 2021, then President Rodrigo Duterte directed PhilHealth to defer the scheduled hike amid the health crisis.

Poe said that while the goals of the UHC law and the National Health Insurance Program are desirable, the increase is ill-timed.

“The country is still recovering from the socio-economic impact of the pandemic, and our people are trying to adjust to the new normal. Some have just gotten back to work or re-opened their businesses while still struggling to make ends meet and pay off debts,” she said.

“Any untimely increase can dim the hope and dent the ability of our countrymen to survive at this challenging time. We must look after them with concern and compassion,” Poe added.

In 2021, the House of Representatives approved two separate bills authorizing then President Rodrigo Duterte to legally suspend the scheduled increases in PhilHealth and the Social Security System premium rates that year.


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TAGS: Cebu Daily News, PhilHealth, senate bill, Senator Grace Poe

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