PhilHealth urged to halt contribution hike in 2021 | Inquirer News

PhilHealth urged to halt contribution hike in 2021

/ 09:00 PM December 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Some senators and a former lawmaker have called on the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) to defer the increase in the contribution of its members in 2021, saying that it is ill-timed in the wake of a pandemic.

“The demand for PhilHealth services is magnified due to health hazards of COVID-19 on top of the financial consequences of the pandemic,” Senator Imee Marcos said in a statement on Wednesday.

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“To impose an additional burden to contributors at this time is indeed cruel and unusual punishment,” she said.

On Tuesday, PhilHealth announced that it would be implementing a “scheduled contribution rate and adjustment in income ceiling” for next year to “ensure sufficient funding for the health care benefits of its 110 million members” as mandated under the Universal Health Care (UHC) law.

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“I know that the increase in PhilHealth contributions is consonant to the implementation of the Universal Health Care Law (UHC),” Marcos went on.

“Very much like the earlier announcement of increase in [Social Security System] contributions beginning 2021, the timing of these increases coincides with a period of overwhelming economic difficulty due to the pandemic,” she added.

She said she is looking to file a bill that would defer the increase in contribution which PhilHealth members “can ill-afford in these difficult times.”

Meanwhile, former Senator JV Ejercito, the principal sponsor of the UHC law in the Senate, said the state insurer should defer the increase in the members’ contribution.

“I am calling on the PhilHealth Board of Directors to suspend the implementation of the increase in members’ contribution for 2021,” Ejercito said in a statement.

“It is the height of insensitivity on the part of PhilHealth to implement this increase at a time when our people are struggling against this pandemic and when systemic corruption in their own backyard has yet to be addressed,” he added.

With nobody foreseeing the COVID-19 pandemic, the former lawmaker pointed out that there is a provision under the UHC law that would allow PhilHealth or the Department of Health (DOH) to request Congress for supplemental funding to meet UHC targets.

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“I urge Congress to provide additional funding in order to alleviate the financial burden on our people. I would also like to emphasize that implementation of UHC should not be solely dependent on PhilHealth contributions. Sin taxes, [Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office] & [Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation] contributions are other sources of funds,” he said.

“I continue to believe in the ideals and goals of universal health care. Our contributions are our investments to a stronger healthcare system that will protect our family’s health and our nation from future pandemics,” he added.

Ejercito also said that the UHC states that PhilHealth should provide a corresponding increase in benefits for every increase in rate of contribution.

“What then is the additional benefits that Philhealth would provide for its members for next year?” he asked.

“The last thing our people would need is another burden. Let the people and businesses recover from the pandemic and resolve the allegation of corruption surrounding your agency,” he added.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan shared the views of Marcos and Ejercito, saying that this is not the time to add to the financial burden of Filipinos.

“Matapos nilang ilustay at nakawin ang bilyun bilyon dadagdagan pa nila ang sisingil sa ating mga kababayan na sadsad na sa gastusin? Anong kahibangan ito? Nakaw pa more?” he said in a message to reporters.

(After they wasted billions of funds they will increase the contribution of its members who are already struggling to finance their needs? What is this insanity?)

“Hindi ngayon ang panahon upang dagdagan ang gastusin ng ating mga kababayan sa kalusugan at lalo na’t milyon milyon ang walang trabaho at walang makain. Sa dami ng inuutang ng gobyerno para sa COVID response unahin dapat nila tustusan ang gastos sa health sa halip na ipasa sa taumbayan,” he added.

(This is not the time to add financial burden to the Filipino people, especially that millions were rendered jobless and have struggled to feed their families. With the amount of money the government borrowed, we should use this to fund our health services and not pass on the expense to the public.)

CFC

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TAGS: contribution, Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, Nation, News, Philhealth, Senator Francis Pangilinan, Senator Imee Marcos
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