Senator Grace Poe has filed a bill seeking powers for the President to suspend the increase in contributions to the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) to spare the Filipinos from additional burden in critical times.

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

“We must heed their distress call for food to feed their families and jobs to help them get by.”

“Right now, we must heed their distress call for food to feed their families and jobs to help them get by, with the least burden and utmost support from government,” the veteran legislator stressed.

The seasoned lawmaker’s bill seeks to provide that in the event of a state of national emergency or public health emergency or state of national calamity, the President, upon the recommendation of the PhilHealth board after consultation with stakeholders, may suspend the increase in premium contributions.

The measure, which proposes to amend Republic Act No. 11223 or the Universal Health Care (UHC) Act, stipulates that the mandated increase may be implemented upon the lifting of the above conditions.

“By giving the President the power and authority to suspend such increases in times of need, we are also providing our countrymen a critical lifeline,” the lady senator said.

She hopes that her bill will be given due attention to halt the contribution hike that PhilHealth has imposed beginning June this year.

The premium rate currently being collected is at 4 percent from the previous 3 percent.

Being retroactive from January, this means that on top of the increased contributions,

PhilHealth members would also have to pay an additional premium of 1 percent from January to May.

Under the law, the premium rate should increase by 0.5 percent yearly, starting from 3 percent in 2020 until it hits 5 percent.

In January 2021, then President Rodrigo Duterte directed PhilHealth to defer the scheduled 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 ill-timed.

“Our people are trying to adjust to the new normal.”

“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 gotten back to work or re-opened their businesses while still struggling to make ends meet and pay off debts,” she said.

“Any untimely increase can dim the hope and dent the ability of our countrymen to survive at this challenging time. We must look after them with concern and compassion,” Poe emphasized.



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