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The poor will be harmed by a 5-day ‘PhilHealth holiday’: Salceda

On Tuesday, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee emphasized the importance of a “sustainable” Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), which can rapidly evaluate and pay claims while providing enough financial security to members.

Rep. Joey Salceda of Albay made the comment while speaking out against private hospitals declaring a five-day holiday from receiving PhilHealth claims for deductions.

“On one side, PhilHealth must unquestionably pay its claims. Even public hospitals, such as the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital, had difficulty paying their operations due to claims delays. However, this is not a viable answer to PhilHealth’s difficulties. The impoverished are not going to take a break from getting sick. This holiday will have no negative impact on PhilHealth. Salceda stated, “The poor will.”

He questioned if such a move would be ethical, given that private institutions are effectively rejecting people who have no other option but to rely on PhilHealth.

“I’d like to remind proprietary hospitals that we provided them a huge tax cut under the CREATE Act, which stands for Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises. “If you keep acting like this, I’ll check your records to see where the tax subsidies went,” Salceda warned.

The “quagmire,” he claimed, illustrates the country’s state-run healthcare system’s flaws.

“You have a health insurance company that isn’t run by the country’s financial planners. It lacks a modernized and efficient claims verification mechanism. The fund’s solvency isn’t guaranteed. Fees are paid in a regressive manner. Furthermore, there is no legal obligation for hospitals to accept patients who are members of PhilHealth. “It’s a shambles,” Salceda admitted.

He fought for the passing of House Bill No. 7578, also known as the PhilHealth Reform Act, which offers fundamental improvements in the management of the reserve fund, the collecting system, the distribution and verification of claims and benefits, as well as the agency’s governance.

“The contributions plan will become more progressive,” Salceda said, “possibly saving working minimum-wage families thousands of pesos yearly and thereby exempting abroad Filipino employees from paying premiums.”

According to him, the plan will save minimum wage workers at least PHP4,800 each year in premiums.

Minimum wage earners who are not subject to income taxes would pay PHP100 in monthly minimum contributions instead of the present PHP250 to PHP500.

The measure also appoints the Finance Secretary as Chairman of the PhilHealth Board of Directors, with the Health Secretary serving as a co-chairman.

“This is in line with the Medicare model, which is common in industrialized nations, as well as the character of PhilHealth as an insurance agency,” Salceda explained.

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