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Roque sounds off JV on healthcare bill



The Palace yesterday expressed hope that Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito will live up to his promise to push for the passage of the Universal Healthcare in the Senate within the month.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said he has personally talked to Ejercito, chair of the Senate committee on health and demography, regarding a bill which seeks to provide all-inclusive health coverage for Filipinos.

“We have talked several times and there was a time he promised that September will not end without Universal Healthcare being passed,” Roque said in a radio interview.

In the Senate, the Universal Healthcare is still pending in the committee level. However, the House of Representatives has passed its version of the bill, authored by Roque, a former congressman, last year.

Long wait

“A year has passed after we passed the Universal Healthcare bill in the Congress, and we will soon see the passage of the Senate version,” Roque said.

Roque said there will be more discussions on how to reconcile differences between the Senate and House versions of the bill.

He pointed out that President Rodrigo Duterte himself has certified the bill as urgent during his third State of the Nation Address (SoNA).

“This has been certified urgent by the President, he mentioned it in his SoNA. So this is an administration bill,” Roque said.

“We, and all Filipinos, are expecting that before September ends, it is already a law,” he added.

A SoNA promise

Roque said with the Universal Healthcare in place, Filipinos will no longer face the dilemma of not being able to afford checkups and medicines.

During his third State of the Nation Address, Mr. Duterte urged the Congress to pass the Universal Healthcare Bill, noting that it would ensure every Filipino family’s opportunity to get the “appropriate, affordable, and quality health services in appropriate facilities and will be protected from financial burden due to sickness”.

Under the UHC bill, there will be an automatic inclusion of all Filipinos into the National Health Insurance Program.