House OKs universal health coverage for all Pinoys
Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - September 7, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — With a vote of 222-7, the House of Representatives on Wednesday night approved on third and final reading a measure providing universal health care for all Filipinos.

Only the militant Makabayan bloc opposed the passage of House Bill 5784 or the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) bill.

Deputy minority leader and Kabayan party-list Rep. Harry Roque said the passage of the bill was an opportunity for change for a better health system for Filipinos, especially the poor.

“It is our duty and responsibility to see the enactment of this bill that gives spirit to the right to health of the people and I am happy that today we took a giant step forward to realizing this,” Roque, one of the measure’s co-authors, said. 

“This bill is groundbreaking because with it, every Filipino is granted the right to health by virtue of citizenship. It provides health security to Filipinos not because they can pay premiums, but simply because they are Filipinos,” he added.

Under the proposed bill, the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. is reconstituted into the Philippine Health Security Corp. (PHSC) that will become the national purchaser of health services.

Roque said UHC membership will be categorized into two: contributory, or those who pay such as public and private workers; and non-contributory or those who give no contributions such as indigents.

The measure also provides for the adoption and institutionalization of Health Technology Assessment (HTA) and the creation of the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC).

HTA denotes any process of examining or reporting properties of a medical technology used in health care, including safety, efficacy, feasibility and indications for use; cost-effectiveness, as well as social, economic and ethical consequences, whether intended or unintended.

The HTAC will serve as advisory body to the health secretary and the board of directors of the PHSC on the priority entitlements for universal health coverage, Roque said.

A salient feature of the bill is the mandating of income retention for all government health facilities.

Roque said the measure authorizes Department of Health (DOH)-retained hospitals, specialty hospitals and health facilities run by local government units (LGUs) to utilize 100 percent of their income to enhance capacity and improve the quality of services.

Furthermore, the UHC bill provides for a clear delineation of functions of agencies and sectors involved in health services, addressing the high fragmentation of the present health system in the country.

“The bill explicitly provides for a division of labor among the DOH, PSHC, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of the Interior and Local Government and the LGUs,” Roque said.

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