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Duterte certifies as urgent Universal Health Care bill

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Malacañang announced on Tuesday that President Rodrigo R. Duterte has certified as urgent a bill seeking to provide universal coverage to government’s health care services.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Universal Health Care (UHC) bill was certified as urgent by the President during an almost nine-hour Cabinet meeting that lasted until 1 a.m. on Tuesday.

“I am pleased to announce that our Universal Health Care Bill which we sponsored, defended and passed in the House of Representatives was certified as urgent in tonight’s (July 9) Cabinet meeting,” Roque said.

Roque was still a member of the House of Representatives when the UHC bill, or House Bill No. 5784, was passed on third and final ready in September last year.

The Senate has yet to pass its own version, with Senate committee on health and demography chairman Senator JV Ejercito vowing to come out with a consolidated version where the Filipinos can enjoy guaranteed access to health services.

A Senate bill filed by Senators Ralph Recto, Joel Villanueva and Sherwin Gatchalian seeks to expand the benefit packages being offered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth).

Under the House’s proposal, the Philhealth will be reorganized into the Philippine Health Security Corporation which will serve as the national purchaser of health services.

The Department of Health will also be allowed to use in full its income to provide better health services to every Filipino.

As of 2016, at least 93 million Filipinos are covered by Philhealth — half are indigents while the rest are composed of paying individuals from both formal and informal economies and lifetime members.

According to Philhealth’s 2015 financial statement, the corporation has collected PHP96.7 billion from premium contributions of all its members, including the government subsidy for indigents.

On the other hand, Philhealth paid out around PHP97 billion for benefit payments that covered about 8.4 million claims. (PNA)