House OKs universal health coverage bill on final reading

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 06 2017 10:04 PM

The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved on third and final reading the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Bill. 

The final vote for House Bill 5784 came down to 222 voting for the bill, 7 voting against it, and zero abstention. 

Deputy Minority Leader and Kabayan Party-list Representative Harry Roque said the passage of HB 5784 is a golden opportunity for change for 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, 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.
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.
"UHC membership will be categorized into two: contributory, or those who pay such as public and private workers; and non-contributory workers, or those who give no contributions such as indigents," Roque said.
Moreover, HB 4784 provides for the adoption and institutionalization of Health Technology Assessment and the creation of the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC).
HTA denotes any process of examining or reporting properties of a medical technology used in health care, including safety, efficacy, feasibility, and indications for use; cost-effectiveness; as well as social, economic, and ethical consequences, whether intended or unintended.
"The HTAC will serve as advisory body to the Health Secretary and the Board of Directors of the PHSC on the priority entitlements for universal health coverage," the lawmaker said.
Another key feature of the bill is the mandating of income retention for all government health facilities.
Roque said the bill authorizes Department of Health (DOH)-retained hospitals, specialty hospitals, and LGU-hospitals to utilize 100 percent of their income to enhance their capacity and improve the quality of their services.
Furthermore, the UHC bill provides for a clear delineation of functions of agencies and sectors involved in health services, addressing the high fragmentation of the present health system in the country.
"The bill explicitly provides for a division of labor among the DOH, PSHC, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the local government units (LGUs)," Roque said.