House OKs bill granting President power to suspend PhilHealth contribution hikes
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives approved on final reading a measure seeking to grant the president of the Philippines the power to suspend the scheduled increases in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) premium contributions.
With 227 affirmative votes, six negative, and no abstention, the lower chamber approved House Bill No. 8461, which seeks to amend Republic Act No. 11223 or the Universal Healthcare Act, by giving the President the power to defer the scheduled PhilHealth contribution increases in times of national emergencies or when the public interest so requires.
Under the measure, the suspension shall be in consultation with the secretary of Finance and the secretary of Health as chairperson of PhilHealth.
House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, the principal author of the measure, earlier said that the bill “will provide a much-needed relief from the negative effects of the pandemic and will assure Filipinos that the government is sensitive to their sentiments.”
Currently, the Universal Health Care Act mandates increases in member premiums by increments of 0.5 percent every year, starting 2021 until it reaches the 5-percent limit in 2025.
For 2021, the premium rate is scheduled to increase to 3.5 percent of the monthly basic salary, from the 2020 rate of 3 percent.
PhilHealth has suspended the contribution hike which was supposed to take effect in January following the order of President Rodrigo Duterte.
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