House, Senate to convene joint probe on PhilHealth contribution hike for OFWs
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives and Senate is set to convene a joint congressional oversight hearing to discuss the provision in the Universal Health Care law regarding Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) premium payment hikes of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
Quezon 4th District Rep. Angelina Tan, one of the principal authors of the law as well as the head of the House health committee on health, on Tuesday said the hearing would tackle whether Congress has to amend the law or it is only the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) that has to be changed.
This is after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered PhilHealth to make the payment of premiums for OFWs to be voluntary.
“‘Yung specific provision ng batas, hindi nila pwede i-suspend o i-cancel, it has to go through sa atin sa Kongreso, so mag-a-amyenda po kami kung ‘yun ang magiging direction,” she told reporters in an online press conference.
(They cannot suspend or cancel the specific provision of the law. It has to go through Congress. We will amend if that will be the direction.)
“I think ‘yung statement ni Presidente, parang to guide Congress na mag-act on the problem na kinakaharap natin ngayon,” Tan added.
(I think the statement of the President is just a guide to Congress to act on the problem we are facing today.)
Tan said she and Senator Bong Go, who is her counterpart as chairperson of the Health Committee in the Senate, has scheduled a meeting with several government agencies such as PhilHealth, Department of Labor and Employment, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration to look into the issue.
There could be repercussions, the lawmaker said, if contributions of OFWs be made voluntary, as others may complain of giving special treatment, Tan said.
“Dahil may complaints doon sa provision, minabuti namin na mag-convene [ng congressional oversight hearing] para mapag-usapan kasi doon din malalaman natin kung ano ang magiging direksyon doon sa provision na ‘yun, ano ang dapat gawin, may kailangan bang amyendahan o baka doon sa IRR lang yung dapat ayusin,” she added.
(Because there are complaints on the provision of the law, we thought it’s best to convene a hearing so that we can discuss there the direction of the said provision, what needs to be done, does it need to be amended or it’s only that IRR that needs to be fixed).
In a recently released circular, PhilHealth mandated an increase in the mandatory contribution of OFWs whose monthly income ranged from P10,000 to P60,000 to 3% starting this year. This is up from 2.75% in 2019.
An online petition on Change.org against the PhilHealth move has so far gained close to 300,000 signatures.
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