Bill seeks PBBM power on Philhealth

The funds were distributed to 825 borrowers nationwide including 549 micro and small enterprises, 135 big enterprises, 134 cooperatives and seven microfinance firms

Congress is firm on granting President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. the power to adjust or stop Philippine Health Insurance Corp.’s annual premium contribution hike to its members.

House Bill 6772 hurdled the chamber on Tuesday with a unanimous 276-0 votes.

The bill seeks to amend the Universal Health Care Act of 2018, which requires PhilHealth members’ contributions to increase from 4 percent last year to 4.5 percent this year, or from P400 to P450 for the minimum monthly premium.

The bill’s proponents wanted the authority to halt or modify contributions to rest solely with the president of the Philippines.

The bill which was filed on 13 January, was prompted by the persistent presence of the Covid-19 pandemic, that has taken a heavy toll on the livelihood of many Filipinos.

Adjustments suspended

The bill intends to suspend PhilHealth’s annual increase, which the Universal Healthcare law mandates.

“While Philhealth only aims to fulfill and remain faithful to its mandate, imposing a higher premium on Filipinos in these current conditions where most of them are grappling with the pandemic will definitely enforce a new round of financial burden to its members,” the bill, whose principal authors include Speaker Martin Romualdez, read.

Should muster enough political backing, the bill would alleviate the financial burden on Filipinos, who are still reeling from the pandemic’s adverse effects.

Marcos in January had directed PhilHealth to suspend the implementation of the contribution hike as Filipinos still grapple with socioeconomic woes fallout from the ongoing pandemic.

In 2025, the PhilHealth contribution rate will go up even more to 5 percent.

The UHC law mandates an annual increase of 0.5 percent in member premiums, beginning in 2021 until it reaches a maximum of 5 percent in 2025.

The proposal, which will be added to Section 10 of the existing UHC law, states that the President may suspend and adjust the implementation period of the scheduled increase in premium rates during national emergencies or calamities or when the public interest so requires.

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