(File photo)

MANILA – A measure imposing a maximum fine worth PHP5 million on hospitals and clinics demanding deposits before administering treatment for emergency and serious cases has been filed at the House of Representatives.

Under House Bill 3046 filed on Aug. 3 but released on Thursday, Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte cited the need to increase the set of penalties imposed under Republic Act (RA) 10932 or the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law, considering that there are still reports of hospitals allegedly violating the law.

Duterte said the law asserts the right of an individual to be admitted to any hospital and be given basic emergency care without being asked to hand over an advance payment outright.

"This is in consonance with the Hippocratic Oath that physicians take, pledging to help the sick to the best of their ability and knowledge,” he said. “Hence, hospitals, in general, are duty bound to provide care and treatment to those who are injured or suffering."

Under RA 10932, hospital employees or medical practitioners found guilty of violating the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law shall be penalized with a PHP100,000 to PHP300,000 fine and/or imprisonment of six months to two years.

The same law also imposes higher penalties of imprisonment of four years to six years, and a fine of PHP500,000 to PHP1 million, or both, on directors or officers of hospitals or clinics responsible for implementing policies or instructions that violate the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law.

Under the proposed measure, a hospital employee, official, or medical practitioner found violating the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law will be fined between PHP500,000 and PHP1 million or imprisoned from four years to six years, or both, upon the discretion of the courts.

If the violation was committed because of the medical facility’s established policy, or upon instructions of its management, the director or officer responsible shall be penalized with imprisonment of six years to 12 years and/or fined PHP2 million to PHP5 million under the bill.

Aside from stiffer penalties, the bill also contains a provision mandating the establishment of a Department of Health-administered national hotline where the public can immediately call to seek immediate assistance regarding the law's violators.

The proposed law would allow the filing of administrative cases against erring hospital employees and officials with the corresponding penalty of suspension, cancellation, or revocation of their professional licenses.

This is on top of the revocation of the medical facility’s license to operate by the health department after three repeated violations of the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law arising from an established policy or instructions of its management.

The bill was also authored by Benguet Rep. Eric Yap and ACT-CIS Party-list Reps. Edvic Yap and Jeffrey Soriano. (PNA)