Two lawmakers underscore need for early passage of National Health Insurance Bill

August 16, 2012 9:27 am 

MANILA, Aug. 15 –- In the wake of the devastating effects of recent calamities that effected a large part of the country and laid a large number of the populace to the looming specter of an array of widespread diseases, two lawmakers from the House of Representatives has vigorously pushed for the urgent enactment of the National Health Insurance Bill that have already passed third and final reading in the Lower chamber of Congress and awaiting the same in the Senate.

Bacolod City Rep. Anthony Golez Jr and Surigao del Sur Rep. Philip Pichay, leading members of the House Committee on Health, said that disasters that plague the country are usually accompanied by widespread diseases among people in affected areas, most especially among poor people who crowd evacuation areas.

Pichay said nothing illustrated this threat more graphically than the recent destructive result of the monsoon rains that inundated most parts of the National Capital Region and surrounding provinces and gave rise to an alarming incidence of leptospirosis and other illnesses.

“This brings us to the sad reality that more than ever before, we need to enact House Bill 6048, or An act providing universal healthcare services to all Filipinos, which would provide financial risk protection to the poor through enrollment to Philhealth,” he said.

“The National Health Insurance Bill would enable the poor to have access to quality and affordable health care and services in times of need,” he stressed.

He said President Benigno S. Aquino III has consistently underscored in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on the need to provide our people with accessible and affordable medical health care services.

“The House Committee on Health believes that the time has come to put into place a law that would empower the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth), as fund provider, to effect changes in its policies to be truly responsive to the challenges of the times,” Pichay said.

Meanwhile, Golez said that financial barrier is one of the reasons why the poor do not seek the services of medical professionals and health facilities.

He cited a 2011 survey commissioned by a private pharmaceutical association which revealed that 70 percent of Filipinos do not avail of professional health services and health facilities to take care of ailments simply because of fear of out-of-pocket expenditures.

“It is disheartening to note that the Philippines is lagging behind its Asian neighbors in terms of allocating sufficient budget for health services. Universal Health Care Programs have been implemented with success in countries such as Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia among others,” he lamented.

“Being the thrust of the present administration, it is imperative that we move with dispatch on Universal Health Care. When we speak of Universal Health Care, it is in the context of enrolling as many Filipinos to the Philhealth,” Golez said.

He explained that the National Health Insurance Bill embodies the needed response to some of the nagging issues encountered especially by the poor in our health delivery system.

“Membership with Philhealth, whether sponsored or otherwise, will provide the citizens access to quality and affordable health care services and facilities, ” Golez said.

Among the salient provisions of the bill are: full government subsidy in the payment of premium contributions of indigents to Philhealth; mandatory enrolment in the Philippine health insurance program for all citizens of the Philippines and voluntary membership of qualified foreigners; provision of payment schemes other than fee-for-service; and empowerment of the Philhealth to better respond to financing the health needs of the population.

“Given the new powers of Philhealth and budgetary support coming from the Sin Tax Bill to this program, we can anticipate more benefits from our health insurance,” the representative from Bacolod said.

“Good health makes one productive and productivity produces wealth. We are confident that our colleagues in the Senate would share the vision and the urgency of instituting reforms in our health system. We expect the bill to be enacted into law before the year ends,” Golez said. (PNA) FPV/CMR

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