Makabayan solons seek review of Universal Healthcare Law
MANILA, Philippines — The Makabayan bloc of the House of Representatives is seeking the review of the Universal Healthcare (UHC) Law after a circular from the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) increasing the premium contribution of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) was met with uproar.
The lawmakers electronically filed on Tuesday House Resolution No. 827, a copy of which was obtained by the media on Wednesday.
The resolution called on the House Committee on Health to conduct an urgent review of Republic Act No. 11223 or the Universal Healthcare Act which served as the basis of the premium rate hike for OFWs.
“There is a need to urgently review the Universal Health Care Law, along with its Implementing Rules and Regulations, with the goal of repealing the incremental premium rate hike for direct contributors, as well as the classification of migrant workers as direct contributors,” the lawmakers said in the resolution.
The lawmakers argued that Philhealth should not be allowed to impose a premium rate hike, saying that the national insurance agency already has P97 billion reserve funds and net income of P11.6 billion in 2018.
This, on top of its investment portfolio of P149 billion, solons said.
“Filipino workers abroad are already struggling due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. This directive from the national insurance agency is inhumane, with its insistence on the hefty 3% premium rate plus interest for missed payments,” the lawmakers said.
“Overseas Filipino workers have hardly benefitted from Philhealth in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic since they are already covered by insurance programs and state-funded benefits abroad,” they added.
Gabriela Women’s Partylist Rep. Arlene Brosas, one of the authors of the resolution, pointed out that the President cannot extricate himself from culpability, considering that he had signed the very law that had caused much distress to OFWs.
“Nasa Universal Healthcare Law, na pinirmahan mismo ng Pangulong Duterte, ang ugat ng pabigat na Philhealth premium rate hike gayundin ang mandatory OFW contribution. Kaya dapat na kagyat itong i-review at amyendahan,” Brosas said in a statement.
(The root of the problem on Philhealth premium rate hike and the mandatory OFW contribution is in the Universal Healthcare Law that President Duterte himself signed. It should be reviewed and amended.)
Malacañang earlier announced that President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered PhilHealth to make the payment of premiums of OFWs voluntary.
However, Brosas said this verbal pronouncement is not enough.
“Hindi pwedeng verbal lang ang utos ng Pangulo. Kailangang kongkreto ang maging aksyon kaugnay ng malaganap na reklamo ng ating mga kababayan na gustong pigain ng Philhealth gayong humaharap na nga tayo sa COVID-19 pandemic,” Brosas said.
(A verbal order is not enough. The action should be concrete in relation to the complaints of our countrymen amid the COVID-19 pandemic.)
Aside from Brosas, other authors of the resolution include Bayan Muna Partylist Representatives Carlos Isagani Zarate, Ferdinand Gaite, and Eufemia Cullamat; Act Teachers Partylist Rep. France Castro; and Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Jane Elago.
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