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Panel okays Velasco bills freezing premiums to PhilHealth, SSS

Allan Velasco
Speaker Lord Allan Velasco

TWO priority measures of Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, which aim to ease Filipinos’ burden of paying medical and pension contributions, were approved at committee level.

House Bill (HB) Nos. 8316 and 8317 both seek to grant President Rodrigo Duterte the power to suspend the scheduled increases in contribution rates of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) and the Social Security System (SSS) “in times of national emergencies.”

The House Committees on health chaired by Quezon Rep. Angelina Helen Tan approved House Bill 8316 seeking to grant the President of the Philippines the power to suspend the scheduled increases in the Philippine health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) premium contributions.

The House committee on government enterprises and privatization, chaired by Paranaque Rep. Eric Olivarez, approved HB 8317, seeking to give President Rodrigo Duterte the power to suspend the hike in the contribution rate of state-run pension fund Social Security System (SSS).

Velasco expressed his gratitude to the House panels and their members for the swift approval of the bills that both aim at alleviating the financial burden faced by Filipinos amid the COVID-19 crisis.

“We thank our colleagues for recognizing that urgent actions such as postponing PhilHealth and SSS contribution hikes are necessary to provide much-needed relief to our kababayans as the country continues in its fight against COVID-19,” Velasco said.

“These are extraordinary times, thus the remedy needed to further unburden our countrymen are also extraordinary. These are necessary measures that need to be taken in order for us in government to extend help to those who need them the most,” he added.

HB 8316 got unanimous support from resource persons from the PhilHealth, Department of Health, Department of Budget and Management, Department of Labor and Employment, Employers Confederation of the Philippines, and various labor groups.

Olivarez said the committee will be coming out with a report on the approval of HB 8317 by Monday, January 25.

The Committee on Health is also expected to submit its committee report on the approval of HB 8316 to the plenary next week.

Velasco earlier warned that increasing the rate of contributions of SSS members will “strikingly undermine the recovery effort of everyone suffering from job losses, wage reduction, business closures, and health-related issues.”

He noted that as of October 2020, the unemployment rate in the country still stands at 8.7 percent, which is equivalent to 3.8 million Filipinos in the labor force.

According to the House leader, Filipinos have barely recovered from the losses and difficulties brought by COVID-19.

Publication Source :    People's Journal