Lower House OKs bill granting Duterte power to defer SSS, Philhealth premium hikes

Published February 1, 2021, 8:37 PM

by Ben Rosario

The House of Representatives passed on third and final reading the bill granting President Rodrigo Duterte the authority to defer the implementation of increases in membership contributions to the Social Security System and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth).

MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO

House Bill 8317 on the SSS measure received 227 affirmative votes while HB 8512, referring to the Philhealth bill,  228 “yes” votes, as the Lower House approved the two measures on final reading.

Six members of the Makabayan bloc rejected the two bills as they called for permanence in the blocking of any move by both SSS and Philhealth to adjust premium payments of their members.

Speaker Lord Allan Velasco lauded his colleagues for swiftly passing the two measures granting Duterte the power to suspend the scheduled increases in membership contributions.

The two bill empower the chief executive to avert any hike in premium “in times of national emergencies” such as the on-going COVID 19 pandemic.

The bill, in effect, will only defer the mandated premium adjustments.  Implementation will continue on the years following the lifting by the president of the emergency declaration.

HB  8461 deals on Section 10 of Republic Act No. 11223 or the Universal Health Care Act  that mandates hike in membership premium this year.

In  other instances the president shall consult with Philhealth and SSS prior to the decision to defer premium rate increases.

Velasco  cited the CoVID 19 situation in justifying his bill.

“These are extraordinary times and Congress must respond accordingly,” Velasco said.

Explaining his “no” vote, Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite said that he does not support the resumption of automatic increases in Philhealth premium as soon as the emergency situation in the country dies down.

“Hindi pa nga nareresolba ang malaking korapyon at iregularidad sa Philhealth na nakakapekto sa benepisyong dapat ay tinatanggap ng mga miyembro.  (But the enormous Philhealth corruption and irregularities that affected the benefits of members have yet to be resolved),” stated Gaite.

On the other hand, Rep. Eufemia Cullamat also of Bayan Muna warned taht even if the pandemic ends and a declaration of national emergency is already prevailing in the country, SSS members will continue to suffer from the high premium payments they will deliver.

The lady solon said that in order for SSS to continue serving its members, it should instead increase collection efficiency and run after delinquent employers. The Lower House was able to dispose of the two bills in less than one month.

 
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