Senator Risa Hontiveros has filed Senate Bill 2053 to make free the complete 144 dialysis sessions needed by all Filipino senior citizens with kidney diseases amid widespread unemployment.
Hontiveros’ “Free Dialysis for Senior Citizens Act of 2021” seeks to fully reimburse all the dialysis sessions needed by senior citizens conducted in accredited hospitals or free-standing dialysis centers through the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).
“Dialysis has become the lifeline for so many of our senior citizens. It is already difficult to grow old, pero doble ang hirap ng mga lola’t lola na kailangan ding magpa-dialysis. We should help ease the burden,” she said.
Hontiveros emphasized that the stress of the pandemic exacerbated the financial and physical vulnerabilities of senior citizens. Currently, PhilHealth covers 90 dialysis sessions, but Hontiveros said her bill hopes to cover the complete 144 sessions needed for a complete year of treatment.
“Ang mga lolo’t lola natin ang isa sa pinaka-bulnerableng grupo ngayong pandemya. P500 lang ang natatanggap nila bawat buwan sa social pension nila, at yung mga kaya namang magtrabaho, hindi makalabas dahil sa health restrictions,” she said.
“How do we expect them to afford the extra P135,000 needed to complete their sessions? That is a massive financial obligation. It is simply unjust,” Hontiveros said.
“Alalahanin din natin na hindi lang dialysis ang binabayaran nila at ng kanilang mga pamilya. May economic crisis din tayo, and, as it is, hirap na hirap ang pamilyang Pilipino na bumili ng pagkain. Paano pa kaya ang dialysis ni lolo’t lola? Karapatan din nilang maging healthy. Wag natin silang pabayaan,” she said.
Hontiveros also said it is urgent to pass the bill as soon as possible to make life easier for those with kidney disease, which remains the seventh leading cause of death among Filipinos according to the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI).
“Kidney disease is one of the killer sicknesses in the country. I hope this will be a foot in the door to finally expanding the coverage and permanently increasing the number of dialysis sessions we can give our people to give them the chance to still live their lives,” she said.
“Hindi porket matanda na sila ay itataboy natin ang mga lolo’t lola natin. Pagkatapos ng lahat ng nagawa nila para sa atin, maliit na bagay na lang ito. I-regalo natin ang munting pagaalaga sa kanila at ang kanilang kalusugan,” Hontiveros said.