Hontiveros proposes free complete 144 dialysis sessions for seniors

Published February 17, 2021, 1:01 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senator Risa Hontiveros is now pushing for a bill seeking to ensure that Filipino senior citizens can avail of free complete 144 dialysis sessions.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros(Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

Hontiveros, in filing Senate Bill No. 2053 or the “Free Dialysis for Senior Citizens Act of 2021,” said senior citizens suffering from kidney diseases that require dialysis should be able to fully reimburse through the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) all the dialysis sessions conducted in accredited hospitals or free-standing dialysis centers.

The senator said passage of the bill into law would be helpful to senior citizens and their families especially amid the widespread unemployment, exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis.

Currently, PhilHealth covers 90 dialysis sessions, but Hontiveros said her bill hopes to cover the complete 144 sessions needed for a complete year of treatment.

“Dialysis has become the lifeline for so many of our senior citizens. It is already difficult to grow old, pero doble ang hirap ng mga lolo’t lola na kailangan ding magpa-dialysis (but our grandfathers and grandmothers who need dialysis face twice the hardship). We should help ease the burden,” Hontiveros said in a statement.

“How do we expect them to afford the extra P135,000 needed to complete their sessions? That is a massive financial obligation. It is simply unjust,” she pointed out.

The senator further said it is important to pass the bill into law as soon as possible to make life easier for those with kidney disease, which remains the seventh leading cause of death among Filipinos, according to the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI).

“Kidney disease is one of the killer sicknesses in the country. I hope this will be a foot in the door to finally expanding the coverage and permanently increasing the number of dialysis sessions we can give our people to give them the chance to still live their lives,” she stressed.

In November last year, the Dialysis PH Support Group Inc. complained that around 100 dialysis centers across the country have suspended the privilege, which is enshrined under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2 law that allows the state health insurer to shoulder dialysis services until December 2020.

Under the current PhilHealth package for hemodialysis, patients can avail of the free 90 sessions per year and will have to shoulder any remaining sessions.

PhilHealth, led by president and chief executive Dante Gierran, later on increased to 144 the number of dialysis sessions that can be shouldered by the agency, but only until Dec. 31, 2020