Duterte orders PhilHealth contribution hike deferred, but law silent on move
President Rodrigo Duterte is seen speaking in this undated file photo during his meeting with the coronavirus task force
Presidential Photo/Karl Norman Alonzo

Duterte orders PhilHealth contribution hike deferred, but law silent on move

Christian Deiparine (Philstar.com) - January 4, 2021 - 9:58pm

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has reportedly ordered a halt in the increase of members' contribution to the Philippine Health Insurance Corp., but the law which mandates it has no provision for suspending the scheduled hike.

News5 said the president made the call on Monday night, per his former longtime aide and now Sen. Christopher Bong Go.

It is likely that Duterte made the pronouncement in his ongoing weekly meeting with the coronavirus task force, which Go usually attends despite his role in it still unclear.

The hike, scheduled under the Universal Health Care law, will raise the monthly contribution PhilHealth members by 3.5%.

Rey Baleña, a spokesperson for PhilHealth, also told CNN Philippines in an interview earlier today that their hands are tied to implement the move, and postponing the hike would have to go through Congress. 

And with the UHC law silent on possible suspension of the increases which will stretch to 2025, it is unclear how Duterte's new move would materialize apart from an amendment being passed in the legislature which Health Secretary Francisco Duque III also said was the only way for it to not proceed.

In a previous interview also with CNN Philippines last week, Duque said the hike is needed to "ensure the long-term actuarial sustainability of the system."

The hike means those earning below P10,000 would have to pay premiums of P350 beginning this month. Those earning from P10,000 to P69,999 will pay premiums of between P350 and P2,449, while those with salaries of P70,000 or higher will pay P2,450 a month.

It has since met opposition with the corruption allegations still hounding the agency and as millions still grapple with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. 

A measure has since been filed in the upper chamber by Sen. Imee Marcos to suspend the increase for at least a year, saying it was only appropriate given the "additional burden to contributors during this period of overwhelming economic and financial difficulty." 

Palace and health officials, including PhilHealth chief Dante Gierran has yet to comment on the development. — with a report from Marie Ann Los Baños/News5

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