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House lawmakers take first step to defer PhilHealth contribution hike
A public display sign of Philippine Health Insurance Corp.
The STAR/File photo

House lawmakers take first step to defer PhilHealth contribution hike

Xave Gregorio (Philstar.com) - January 5, 2021 - 3:04pm

MANILA, Philippines — Dozens of lawmakers from the House of Representatives across party lines have taken the first step toward deferring the scheduled increase in Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) contributions this year, following President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to halt its implementation.

Fifty-four lawmakers filed Tuesday a proposed joint resolution that would stop the scheduled increase, which would take 3.5% off an individual’s monthly salary, up from the 3% hike from last year.

“The massive displacement of workers and harsh economic conditions brought about by the pandemic should [be] considered as a fortuitous event … for the suspension of a premium rate contribution by the state insurance firm,” the lawmakers said in the resolution.

Rep. Stella Quimbo (Marikina), who was also among the lawmakers who authored the joint resolution, filed a separate bill giving the president the power to suspend scheduled PhilHealth premium hikes “when public interest so requires,” including times of national emergencies.

“Given ongoing economic hardships, we can expect a difficulty on the part of PhilHealth members and employers to comply with the increased premium rate this year. Such increases will only further decrease households’ disposable income and stifle consumption,” Quimbo said in filing the bill.

House lawmakers said that if the scheduled hike is postponed, the state health insurer can always dip into its reserve funds.

Quimbo added that there may be a need to address PhilHealth’s management of its funds before it implements a rate hike as it projects an overall deficit of P86 billion this year, which the lawmaker said suggests “significant leakages.”

Earlier Tuesday, Speaker Lord Allan Velasco assured that the House is ready to review the Universal Health Care Act and its implementing rules and regulations, particularly the provisions on the scheduled PhilHealth contribution hikes.

Velasco urged PhilHealth and the Department of Health to work closely with Congress, so Filipinos will not be subjected to “unnecessary burden” as the pandemic rages on.

Duterte issued Monday a verbal order for PhilHealth to stop its contribution hike, even if the Universal Health Care Act has no provision for the suspension of the scheduled increase.

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.

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES PHILHEALTH RODRIGO DUTERTE
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