Senate bill giving President power to suspend Philhealth premium hike filed │ GMA News Online

Senator Grace Poe is pushing for a bill which seeks to provide the President the power to suspend the increases in contributions to the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) if a state of national emergency or state of national calamity is declared.

Under the proposed measure, the President, upon the recommendation of the Philhealth board after consultation with stakeholders, may suspend the increase in premium contributions in the event of a state of national emergency or public health emergency or state of national calamity.

Poe’s bill, which will amend the Republic Act 11223 or the Universal Health Care Act, provides that the increase may be implemented by Philhealth if the declaration of state of national emergency or calamity is already lifted.

“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 in a statement.

In pushing for the passage of the bill, the lawmaker said the Philhealth premium hike comes at a time when the Filipinos are still grappling with the impact of pandemic and the soaring prices of basic needs.

“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 government,” Poe said.

The lawmaker then urged the 19th Congress to prioritize the deliberations of the bill as the state insurance company has already imposed the scheduled premium hike in June.

Philhealth earlier advised that the monthly premium contribution has been increased to 4% for 2022 as provided by the UHC Law.

The increase is retroactively effective in January 2022.

“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,” Poe 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,” the senator added.

In a television interview, returning Senator JV Ejercito said the bill he filed which seeks to amend the UHC Law will complement Poe’s bill.

“I think it is complementary…because I hope the people will understand, our OFWs in particular, our employees, that during the time that we were drafting, we were conducting hearings on the Universal Health Care Law, everything is doing very well. Our economy is doing very well. So those numbers, those data were carefully studied,” Ejercito, the principal sponsor of the law, said in an interview on CNN Philippines.

“But we never expected that this health crisis or this pandemic will really rock the world. It is not only the Philippines that struggled. It is the whole world that really struggled,” he added.

Ejercito reiterated that he is amenable to make the necessary adjustments to the scheduled premium hikes because the country has to “adapt to the situation.”

“We are still in a health crisis. Kailangan makabangon muna ang ating ekonomiya, makabawi ang ating mga kababayan because of the effects of this crisis,” he stressed.

Ejercito’s proposed measure, which was filed last week, seeks to adjust the current PhilHealth contributions schemes amid the ongoing economic crisis in the Philippines.—AOL, GMA News