MANILA— The House of Representatives on Wednesday afternoon approved on third and final reading a measure providing the universal health coverage for Filipinos, which is among the legislative priorities of the 17th Congress for the second regular session.
Members of the Lower House passed House Bill (HB) No. 5784 or the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Bill with 222 affirmative votes, 7 negative and zero abstention.
In a statement Wednesday, Deputy Minority Leader and Kabayan Partylist Rep. Harry Roque said the bill’s passage was a golden opportunity for change toward a better health system.
“It is our duty and responsibility to see the enactment of this bill that gives spirit to the right to health of the people and I am very happy that today we took a giant step forward to realizing this,” said Roque, who is one of the leading proponents of the bill.
“This bill is groundbreaking because, with it, every Filipino is granted the right to health by virtue of citizenship. It provides health security to Filipinos not because they can pay premiums, but simply because they are Filipinos,” he added.
Roque said among the key provisions of the bill is that it enables individuals and communities to receive the full spectrum of health services they need, from health promotion to prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care.
This includes inpatient, outpatient, and emergency care services encompassing preventive, promotive, curative, rehabilitative, and palliative medical, dental, and mental health services.
Under the proposed UHC Bill, the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) is reconstituted into the Philippine Health Security Corporation (PHSC) as it becomes the national purchaser of health services.
The UHC membership will be categorized into two: contributory workers, or those who pay such as public and private workers; and non-contributory workers such as indigents.
HB 4784 also provides for the adoption and institutionalization of Health Technology Assessment and the creation of the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC), which will serve as an advisory body to the Health Secretary and the Board of Directors of the PHSC on the priority entitlements for universal health coverage.
Furthermore, the bill seeks to mandate the retention of income for all government health facilities, therefore, allowing these hospitals to utilize 100 percent of their income to enhance their capacity and improve the quality of their services.