Duterte orders PhilHealth to defer contribution hikes

By Azer Parrocha

January 5, 2021, 8:32 am

<p>President Rodrigo Duterte <em>(Presidential Photo)</em></p>

President Rodrigo Duterte (Presidential Photo)

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the state-run Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to defer the scheduled increase in the contribution rates this year.

In a public address late Monday night, Duterte told PhilHealth CEO and President Dante Gierran to suspend the contribution hike to lessen the burden of Filipinos affected by the prevailing coronavirus pandemic.

“We come now to the status sa PhilHealth. There is a move to increase the contribution ng mga members. At this time of our life, may I just suggest to the PhilHealth chairman, si Dante Gierran at saka ‘yung si -- lahat na -- isang tao lang kailangan kong sabihan diyan. Huwag muna ngayon (and everyone I need to speak to. Not now. No -- no increase in contributions,” he said.

Duterte vowed to “look for money” to fund Republic Act 11223 or the Universal Health Care (UHC) law and ensure that PhilHealth services remain unhampered.

“I will look for the money to fill it up. Maghanap tayo ng pera (Let’s look for money). Anyway, that is the job of the government to make it easy for everybody at this time, I said, of our lives,” he said.

Before Duterte’s speech, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go said Duterte supports the deferment of PhilHealth’s collection of monthly premiums.

“Base sa usapan namin ni Pangulong Duterte, sang-ayon naman po siya na ipagpaliban pansamantala muna ang pagtaas sa rates ng contributions ng PhilHealth habang may pandemya pa tayong kinakaharap. Subalit, alam rin ng Pangulo na kailangan ng batas para maisakatuparan ang deferment (Based on my conversation with President Duterte, he is in favor of temporarily suspending the PhilHealth contribution rates hike while we are in a pandemic. But the President knows a law is needed to implement the deferment),” Go said in a statement.

He appealed to the government finance managers and fellow legislators to highly consider the temporary deferment.

Go said one option is to propose an amendatory bill that will specifically address the specific provision in the UHC law mandating the said increase.

Another option is to include a provision in the proposed Bayanihan 3 bill that would allow moving statutory deadlines and timelines for payments required by law such as, but not limited to, the increase and payment of PhilHealth premiums.

“Whether we amend the law or augment the funds of PhilHealth, let us work together to find a viable solution to achieve universal health care for all without imposing unnecessary burden to ordinary Filipinos during this challenging time,” he said.

Last week, PhilHealth announced its plan to push through with the scheduled contribution rate adjustment this year to ensure sufficient funding for its healthcare beneficiaries.

The premium is supposed to increase 3.50 percent of monthly basic salary from the current 3 percent which means that those earning below PHP10,000 will have a fixed contribution of PHP350 a month starting January 2021 while those earning PHP70,000 and higher per month will pay a fixed rate of PHP2,450 monthly.

Under the UHC law, the premium rate shall increase to increments of 0.5 percent every year starting 2021 until it reaches 5 percent in 2025. (PNA)