Sen. Grace Poe wants to give power to the President to suspend the increase in contributions to the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).
Poe’s proposed Senate bill seeks to provide that in the event of a state of national emergency or public health emergency or state of national calamity, the President, upon the recommendation of the PhilHealth board after consultation with stakeholders, may suspend the increase in premium contributions.
“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 noted that 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.
“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,” Poe stressed.
The measure, which proposes to amend Republic Act No. 11223 or the Universal Health Care (UHC) Act, stipulates that the mandated increase may be implemented upon the lifting of the above condition.
The senator hopes that her bill will be given due attention to halt the contribution hike that PhilHealth has imposed beginning June this year.
The premium rate currently being collected is at four percent from the previous three percent.
Being retroactive from January, this means that on top of the increased contributions, PhilHealth members would also have to pay an additional premium of one percent from January to May.
Under the law, the premium rate should increase by 0.5 percent yearly, starting from three percent in 2020 until it hits five 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 Act 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,” 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 said.