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President power to defer PhilHealth premium hike

The House Committee on Health today approved several measures which give the President of the Philippines authority to suspend the scheduled increases in the PhilHealth premium contribution rates.

The move comes on the heels of President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to suspend the monthly premium hike amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, however, previously clarified that the increase in PhilHealth members’ contribution rate cannot be delayed unless Republic Act No. 11223, otherwise known as the Universal Health Care (UHC) law which mandates the scheduled premium increase, is amended. The UHC Act mandates increases in member premiums by increments of 0.5% every year, starting 2021 until it reaches the 5% limit in 2025.

Quezon Rep. Angelina “Helen” Tan, Chairperson of the health panel, supported the premium hike suspension in order to provide PhilHealth contributors immediate relief amid the hard times brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic but stressed that it should not in any manner undermine the ideals and goals of the UHC.

She said that the UHC law has a noble intention of ensuring that all Filipinos are guaranteed access to quality and affordable health care goods and services, and protected against financial risk.

“This lofty ambition, however, should be supported by sufficient funds to sustain the reforms introduced by the UHC law, which is the rationale for annual and incremental increases on the premiums and to espouse a spirit of social solidarity so that those who have less in life should have more in law,” she explained. (Vina de Guzman)