Senator Christopher “Bong” Go on January 6, 2020, vowed to prioritize measures amending the Universal Health Care (UHC) Act and its implementing rules and regulations, particularly the scheduled increase in the contribution rates of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) this year.
In a statement, Go said he would act on the legislation “as soon as possible” once they are referred to the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, which he chairs.
“Once these proposed measures are referred to the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, I, as chair, will act on these as soon as possible. Senate President (Vicente) Sotto also identified the proposed measures to defer the increase in PhilHealth contribution rates this year as a priority,” he said.
Go said he has discussed with Duterte the plan to suspend PhilHealth’s collection of higher contributions, which the former supported.
“Sinabi niya na kung may maipapasang batas ang Lehislatibo na naglalayong ipatupad ang deferment, o kung may kailangang aprubahan na dagdag na pondo mula gobyerno para hindi maantala ang serbisyo ng PhilHealth, pipirmahan niya ito pagkatapos mapag-aralan ng mabuti (He said if the legislative body passes a law that seeks to implement the deferment, or if there is a need to approve additional funding from the government so as not to delay PhilHealth’s service, he would sign it after careful study),” he said.
Go assured that the government would see to it that PhilHealth services would not be hampered despite the contribution hike deferment.
“Base rin sa pag-uusap namin ni Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado at PhilHealth CEO Dante Gierran, ginagawan na rin ng paraan upang masigurong hindi apektado ang mga serbisyo ng PhilHealth kapag naisabatas na ang pag-defer ng pagsingil ng dagdag na kontribusyon (Based on our talks with Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado and PhilHealth CEO Dante Gierran, a way is being made to ensure that PhilHealth services are not affected once the deferral of additional contribution billing is enacted),” he said.
Go also said his committee would prioritize efforts to reorganize PhilHealth and review Republic Act 11223 or the UHC Act.
Meanwhile, he guaranteed that public funds would be spent correctly.
“Habang ginagawan ng paraan na magkaroon ng sapat na pondo ang PhilHealth, sisiguraduhin rin natin na hindi mananakaw ang pera ng bayan at maisaayos dapat ang serbisyo sa taumbayan, lalo na sa panahon ng kanilang pangangailangan (While efforts are being made to give PhilHealth adequate funding, we will also ensure that the people’s money would not be stolen and that service to the people would be improved, especially in times of need),” Go said.
Instead of imposing an additional burden on Filipinos, PhilHealth officials should also work on regaining public trust in the state insurer, he said.
“Ang dagdag na bayarin ang mas lalong nagpapahirap sa mga Pilipino sa ngayon. Kung meron mang dapat dagdagan, iyon ay ang tiwala ng taumbayan sa PhilHealth. Kung malinis diyan at walang magnanakaw, hindi magkukulang ang pondo at mas masisigurong ang bawat piso ay makakabenepisyo sa bawat Pilipino (These additional payments are making it even more difficult for Filipinos today. If anything is to be added, it should be the people’s trust in PhilHealth. If it is clean and free from thieves, there would be no shortage of funds and it is more certain that every peso would benefit each Filipino),” Go said.
In a taped speech late Monday night, Duterte ordered PhilHealth to defer the scheduled increase in the contribution rates this year to reduce the burden of Filipinos affected by the quarantine restrictions imposed to contain the pandemic.
PhilHealth earlier announced its plan to push through with the collection of higher monthly premiums, which will increase by 0.5 percent in the new year.
The present contribution is 3 percent of monthly income.
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 of PHP350 to PHP2,449.99, while those earning PHP70,000 and higher per month will pay a fixed rate of PHP2,450 monthly.
The premium rate shall increase every year starting 2021 until it reaches 5 percent in 2025. (PNA)