Health care law signed

P257-billion measure expands medical perks for Filipinos

President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday signed into law a bill that will “guarantee equitable access to quality and affordable health care services for all Filipinos.”

Under the new law, Filipinos will be automatically enrolled in the National Health Insurance Program. Membership in the NHIP will be classified as “direct contributor,” or those who can pay health premiums, and “indirect contributor,” or those sponsored by the government such as indigents, senior citizens and people with disability. 

The law also aims to expand the coverage of PhilHealth benefits, which included free consultation tests and other diagnostic services.

Filipinos can also avail themselves of primary health care services even if they don’t have PhilHealth identification cards.

Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros said the Philippines’ goal of having “healthier Pinoys and Pinays” was now closer to reality as she hailed the signing into law of the Universal Health Care Act.

Hontiveros, vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography and co-sponsor of the law in the Senate, said the measure was a “key milestone in the efforts to make the country’s health services equally accessible, effective and affordable for all Filipinos.”

Senator Nancy Binay said the Universal Health Coverage law was a massive win for every Filipino family.

Senator JV Ejercito, the principal author of the Senate version of the measure, has previously said that its passage will expand PhilHealth’s coverage to include free medical checkups, laboratory tests, and other diagnostic services.

The new law also gives every Filipino “immediate eligibility” for access to the full coverage of health care, which includes either population-based or individual-based health services, granting them access to preventive, promotive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative treatment. 

According to the Health department, about P257 billion will be required to ensure the full implementation of the UHC.

READ: Universal health care for Pinoys one step closer to reality

Funds for the UHC program will then be sourced from the incremental sin tax collections, the charity fund from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, income from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., the premium contribution of members, the annual budget of the Health department and the government subsidy to PhilHealth.

READ: DMOs to take UHC lead in Calabarzon

Ejercito, with the endorsement of the President, is running for senator again in 2019. In the House of Representatives, former Kabayan Rep. Harry Roque was the principal sponsor of the bill. 

Roque initially intended to run for senator but dropped out of the race before the campaign period began due to health complications.     

READ: PhilHealth ready for Health Care challenge

Topics: Rodrigo Duterte , health care , National Health Insurance Program , PhilHealth , Risa Hontiveros , Universal Health Care Act
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