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Senators seek suspension of hike in PhilHealth premiums

AT LEAST six senators are moving for the suspension of the scheduled 3.5-percent increase this year in Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) premium contributions.

Senator Grace Poe, together with co-authors Sens. Miguel Zubiri, Joel Villanueva, Nancy Binay and Sherwin Gatchalian filed Senate Bill No. 1968 that seeks to suspend the increase.

It’s simply inhumane to apply an increase in contributions for healthcare services when we are right in the middle of a health crisis. Especially since there are many irregularities that PhilHealth hasn’t answered for yet,” stressed Poe.

It was only a few months ago when PhilHealth was exposed for its alleged fraudulent and corrupt activities amounting to roughly P15 billion.

The Senate panel then found a long list of irregularities including the improper and illegal implementation of the Interim Reimbursement Mechanism and the gross overpricing and anomalous proposals in the procurement of the information technology system, just to name a few.

Universal healthcare is the dream for every Filipino. At a time when we need it the most, it’s unsettling to think that there are a few who are benefiting from the misery of many,” said Poe.

It was also recently reported that PhilHealth has failed to pay the Philippine Red Cross on time for their service of conducting free COVID-19 testing across the country.

Our goal is still to achieve universal healthcare for every Filipino. We’re just hitting the pause button for now because we can’t justify taking more from our countrymen and women who have experienced salary cuts already,” Poe said.

Meanwhile Senator Imee Marcos who filed Senate Bill No. 1966 to postpone to 2022 the legal mandate of PhilHealth to raise membership contributions, appealed to President Duterte to certify the bill.

Good intentions need to be backed up by an amendment to the law,” Marcos said, after the President said payment of PhilHealth premiums should be postponed amid the economic and financial difficulties wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Marcos added that billions of pesos in government loans can help plug revenue losses resulting from the postponement of contributions.

Marcos added that passing the bill to suspend the increase will also solve the dilemma of PhilHealth officials who were “duty-bound to implement the law but must also heed the call of the times.

They may be accused of dereliction of duty if they do not carry out their mandate under the existing UHC law,” Marcos explained.

Besides, what kind of service can we expect with the hike in PhilHealth contributions? Give us reason to believe in PhilHealth first, before increasing premiums yet again!” Marcos said, citing the corruption scandals that have plagued the agency.

Publication Source :    People's Tonight
Marlon Purificacion
Journalist At Large