Senate bill tabled to halt PhilHealth dues hike

Poe said suspending the contribution increase would spare Filipinos an additional burden at a time when the country is battling a pandemic, such as grappling with soaring prices for basic needs.

“The hike comes at a time when our people continue to grapple with the impact of the pandemic and soaring prices for basic needs,” Poe said in a statement Monday.

“Right now, we must answer their distress call for food to feed their families and jobs to help them through, with the least burden and the greatest support from the government,” he said. she adds.

Poe’s bill seeks to give the president the power to suspend dues increases on the recommendation of PhilHealth’s board of directors during a state of national emergency or public health emergency or state of national calamity.

The measure, which aims to amend the Universal Health Care (UHC) law, provides that the mandatory increase in contributions can be implemented as soon as the above conditions are lifted.

“By giving the president the power and authority to withhold such increases when needed, we are also providing our countrymen with an essential lifeline,” Poe said.

She said she hoped her bill would receive due attention so that the dues hike, which began in June this year, would be halted.

The premium rate collected is 4% compared to the previous 3%.

Since the hike was retroactive from January, this means that in addition to the dues increase, PhilHealth members would also have to pay an additional 1% premium from January through May.

Under the CSU law, the contribution rate is expected to increase by 0.5% per year, starting at 3% in 2020 until it reaches 5%.

In January 2021, then-President Rodrigo Duterte ordered PhilHealth to postpone the planned hike amid the health crisis.

Poe said that while the goals of the UHC Act and the National Health Insurance Program are desirable, the increase is untimely.

“The country is still recovering from the socio-economic impact of the pandemic, and our people are trying to adjust to the new normal. Some have just returned to work or reopened their businesses while still struggling to make ends meet and pay off their debts,” she said.

“Any untimely increase can dim hope and reduce our countrymen’s ability to survive in this difficult time. We must deal with them with concern and compassion,” Poe added.

In 2021, the House of Representatives approved two separate bills authorizing then-President Rodrigo Duterte to legally suspend planned increases in PhilHealth and Social Security system premium rates that year.

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Norman D. Briggs