July 11, 2022

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Senate bill giving President power to suspend PhilHealth premium hike filed   

A BILL giving the President authority to suspend an increase in premium contributions to the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) has been filed at the Senate. 

Senator Mary Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares, presumptive chair of the Public Services and Economic Affairs Committees at the upper chamber, said the measure seeks to spare Filipinos from additional burden in critical times.  

“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,” she 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.  

The proposed measure, which will amend Republic Act No. 11223 or the Universal Health Care (UHC) Act, will allow the executive chief to suspend a scheduled increase in contributions in the event of a state of national emergency, public health emergency or state of national calamity, after consulting with PhilHealth board members and key stakeholders.  

“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,” the senator said.  

The UHC law sets out an annual increase in PhilHealth premium contributions by 0.5% yearly starting from 3% in 2020 until it hits 5%.    

This years hike was not immediately implemented but the state insurer recently announced the increase in contributions starting June would be retroactive from January.  

Ms. Poe said while she recognizes the goals of the UHC Act and the National Health Insurance Program, implementing an increase now 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. Alyssa Nicole O. Tan