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The law authorizing PBBM to halt the increase in PhilHealth premiums is approved.

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The House of Representatives has blocked passage of the bill authorizing President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to halt increases in premium rates for “direct donors” of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).

House Bill (HB) 6772, which seeks to amend Republic Act 11223, also known as the Universal Health Care Act, was approved by the chamber on Tuesday during the plenary session through a voice vote. This amendment will raise the contribution rate this year from 4% to 4.5%, or from the minimum monthly premium of PHP400 to PHP450.

Starting in 2025, the rate will rise further to 5%.

The suspension of the adjustment, according to one of the authors and House Speaker Martin Romualdez, would relieve millions of professionals, self-employed individuals, and other PhilHealth contributors of an additional financial burden as they continue to deal with the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

He said that if the adjustment is deferred, the majority of PhilHealth members—those who receive a daily income and numerous employees—would save at least PHP50 per month or PHP600 annually on their health insurance monthly payments.

He claimed that higher earners will by default save more money.

Majority Leader Manuel Jose “Mannix” Dalipe, Senior Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte Representative Ferdinand Alexander Marcos, and Representatives Yedda Marie Romualdez and Jude Acidre from the Tingog Party list are also co-authors of the legislation.

According to the bill, during times of national emergency or calamity or when the public interest so dictates, the President of the Philippines may, on the advice of the PhilHealth board, postpone and modify the term of implementation of the scheduled rise in premium rates.

The Universal Health Care Act’s stated goal is to “ensure that all Filipinos are provided fair access to quality and affordable health care goods and services and protected against financial risk,” as the authors of the amendatory bill noted in their filing of the legislation.

“The law’s intention is obvious and cannot be underlined enough. Filipinos need and deserve a comprehensive set of health services that are cost-effective, high quality, and responsive to the concerns of all residents,” they stated.

“Although PhilHealth just seeks to carry out and uphold its mandate, putting a higher premium on Filipinos in this time when the majority of them are coping with the epidemic will undoubtedly impose a new round of financial strain on its members,” the organization said.

They said that Marcos had backed calls to postpone this year’s rise in PhilHealth fees.

They mentioned that Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin issued a memo suspending the adjustment and income ceiling for this year on the President’s directives.

The authors claimed that postponing the implementation of the new PhilHealth premium rates would give much-needed assistance during national emergencies or calamities and reassure Filipinos that the government was considerate of their feelings during this trying period.

According to RA 11223 “those who have the capacity to pay premiums, are gainfully employed and are bound by an employer-employee relationship, or are self-earning, professional practitioners, migrant workers, including their qualified dependents, and lifetime members” are considered direct contributors.

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