Malacañang on Tuesday, July 10, announced that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has certified as urgent a bill seeking to provide universal healthcare coverage for all Filipinos.
“The President yesterday announced that our pet bill when we were in Congress, the Universal Health Care Bill, which we sponsored and defended in the Lower House, was certified as urgent,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr. said in a press briefing held here at the Indang Municipal Building.
Roque said President Rodrigo Roa Duterte made the announcement during the 27th Cabinet meeting on Monday, July 9.
“This means that we can expect the Senate to act very quickly on the pending Universal Health Care Bill, which is being heard by the Senate Committee on Health headed by Senator JV Ejercito,” he added, stressing that the public could expect the law to be enacted within the year.
Through the proposed measure, Roque said the government seeks to provide for the right of every Filipino to have better access to appropriate health services.
The Palace official described the measure as a “hybrid” form of universal healthcare. The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), he said, would be replaced by the Philippine Health Security Corporation in implementing the government’s universal health coverage.
Roque said coverage would no longer be limited to medical insurances, as the government would be allotting funds to cover the medical expenses of “non-contributing” beneficiaries.
“It will be available to everyone kasi unlike the current system of PhilHealth, [which] is only open doon sa mga nagbabayad, may dalawa na tayong classification – contributing and non-contributing. ’Yung non-contributing, gobyerno na ang magbabayad ng premiums,” he explained.
“Hindi tayo magre-rely on premiums and on insurance alone. Napakadami pong investment din ng gobyerno lalung lalo na sa capital expenditure,” he added.
The Secretary further reiterated the government’s plan to establish one health center for every barangay in the country, as well as district hospitals and regional health units that will be manned by more personnel.
Other highlights during the Cabinet meeting, which Roque announced, included the Cabinet’s approval of the P3.757-trillion proposed national budget for 2019. The Cabinet also gave its nod to the creation of a department tasked to lead the country’s disaster resilience initiatives.
Furthermore, Roque said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III reported that his department has already submitted to the President a list of possible international experts who would look into the effects of Dengvaxia.