By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang has never considered deferring the implementation of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Law especially while the country is battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Absolutely not. Not in this time of pandemic,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque told ANC’s “Headstart” on Wednesday morning.
Roque, who had a verbal tiff with PhilHealth president Ricardo Morales over the matter, said the implementation of the law is not negotiable.
“You cannot delay what the President has promised that when you get sick of COVID-19, then the state will pay through PhilHealth,” he said.
“We will proceed with the implementation of the Universal Health Care [Law],” he added.
Roque reiterated that Morales can always ask Congress for additional funds if PhilHealth runs out of funds to cater to the needs of COVID-19 patients.
“If he needs additional funds, say so because the legislators will consider it. And, if need be, the President will certify the need for further funding as urgent so Congress can act on it,” he said.
“When the bill was being drafted, being the primary author in the House, we knew that the difference between medical insurance and universal health care is when premiums are not enough, then the government will have to pay up,” he added.
“He has appeared before the Senate and that should have been the end-all and be-all of what he can do because it is really up to Congress if they run out of funds to implement the law, then the funds must be authorized by Congress,” he said.
Roque said the issue is not something Morales can decide on his own and if he does, he can be in trouble.
“This is a law that has to be implemented. It is not his discretion to implement it or not. If he does, then he commits a criminal act,” he said.
“He will not just be removed. He can be prosecuted because you cannot violate a law passed by Congress. So, he does not have discretion,” he added.