Bill giving president powers to suspend PhilHealth premiums hike OK’d in 2nd reading
MANILA, Philippines — The president of the country may soon have the power to suspend the scheduled increase in premium rates of Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) contributions, as the House of Representatives approved a proposal on second reading.
During the House session on Tuesday, House Bill (HB) No. 6772 was approved via viva voce or voice voting.
HB No. 6772, authored by House officials led by Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, Majority Floor Leader and Zamboanga City 2nd District Rep. Manuel Jose Dalipe, Senior Deputy Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte 1st District Rep. Ferdinand Alexander Marcos, and Tingog party-list Reps. Yedda Marie Romualdez and Jude Acidre, seeks to provide the president the power to make adjustments upon recommendation of the PhilHealth Board.
If this bill is enacted, Section 10 of Republic Act No. 11223 or the Universal Health Care Act will be amended to have a provision that would allow the chief executive to suspend in case of national emergencies, or when it is in the interest of the public.
“The President of the Philippines may, upon the recommendation 0f the Philhealth board, suspend and adjust the period of implementation 0f the scheduled increase of premium rates during national emergencies or calamities, or when public interest s0 requires,” the bill read.
While the Universal Healthcare Act was crafted with the intention to provide accessible healthcare especially for indigent Filipinos, the bill’s authors acknowledged that it is possible for the higher premium rates to be an additional financial burden — especially when considering that the country has just recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While PhilHealth only aims to fulfill and remain faithful to its mandate, imposing a higher premium to Filipinos in these current conditions where most of them are grappling with the pandemic will definitely enforce a new round of financial burden to its members,” the authors’ explanatory note said.
“Our countrymen have barely recovered from the losses and difficulties brought by COVID-19. Most livelihood, businesses, and other sources of income have not reopened yet, and many Filipinos remain unemployed. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. himself supported the calls to defer the increase in PhilHealth premium contributions,” they added.
While President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has ordered the suspension of PhilHealth’s rate hike for 2023, it was done through a memorandum issued by the Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin.
Under the said memorandum, the scheduled hike in the PhilHealth premium rates — from 4 percent to 4.5 percent, alongside with the increase in the income ceiling of members paying the highest contribution from P80,000 to P90,000 — was deferred.