Duterte wants PhilHealth contribution hike deferred: ally

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 04 2021 11:43 AM

Duterte wants PhilHealth contribution hike deferred: ally 1
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers a speech at the Malacañan Palace on Dec. 28, 2020. Alfred Frias, Presidential Photo/File

MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte wants to defer PhilHealth's looming monthly premium hike, his ally said over the weekend. 

Under the Universal Health Care (UHC) Act, PhilHealth's monthly rates will rise to 3.5 percent this January from 3 percent last year year, thus raising minimum contributions to P350 from the current P300.

The law also adjusts the income ceiling to P70,000 from P60,000, increasing monthly contributions to P2,450 from P1,800.

"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," said Sen. Christopher Go. 

(Based on my talks with President Duterte, he agrees to temporarily defer the hike in the contribution rates of PhilHealth while we are still facing a pandemic.)

Lawmakers need to pass legislation to push back the rate hike, and the President would sign this into law, said Go, his former longtime aide. Duterte is also willing to approve additional funds for PhilHealth to defer the contribution rise, said the senator. 

"The government, as a whole, must do its best to unburden Filipinos by shouldering the cost while ensuring that the UHC law is implemented and the services of PhilHealth are unhampered," he said. 

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The rate adjustment is expected to yield "close to P90 billion" revenues from collections in 2021, PhilHealth senior manager Rey Balena earlier said. Direct contributions this year generated P77 billion in the agency's revenues.

Last year, PhilHealth's leaders fought allegations of pocketing P15 in state funds, approving overpriced projects, and releasing funds to supposedly favored hospitals. 

The insurer's debt to the Philippine Red Cross earlier forced the humanitarian organization to halt its PhilHealth-funded tests for the novel coronavirus.