Bills on Philhealth contributions’ hike to be taken up by the Senate — Zubiri

Published March 2, 2021, 10:33 PM

by Mario Casayuran

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri on Tuesday vowed to calendar for floor debate an upcoming committee report on bills seeking to grant President Duterte the power to suspend the scheduled increased monthly premium contributions to the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel “Migz” F. Zubiri (Alexis Nueva España/Senate PRIB)

Passage of the measure would give respite to financially troubled citizens, Zubiri said.        

Zubiri issued the statement at the start of the public hearing by the Senate health committee chaired by Senator Christopher ‘’Bong’’ Go on the scheduled increased PhilHealth monthly premium rates.       

Senator Imee R. Marcos, chairwoman of the Senate economic affairs committee, supported the approval by the Go committee of her and Go’s bills that are similar.       

She, however, expressed fears that the financial health of PhilHealth is already at risk because of the deferment that starts this year.       

The measures seek to grant the President the power to defer the premium payment of PhilHealth contributions for six months and extendable for another six months in case of national health emergencies or calamities.       

The initial increased premium starts from the current three percent to 3.5 percent monthly. The increased rate is 0.05 percent per year until it reaches up to five percent in 2025.      

Go said the proposed deferment is reasonable due to the current coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic that has brought economic hardships nationwide, closed businesses and loss of employment and livelihood.        

Go said the President had agreed to the deferment proposal.       

Dante Gierran, PhilHealth President and CEO, told Go that of the original amount disbursed to 711 health facilities, P14.9 billion has been liquidated.       

Latest figures show that this has been whittled down to P14.2 billion or a 95 percent difference.      

Gierran said he expects that there would be a 100 percent liquidation before the end of March.       

With the deferment, PhilHealth sees its reserve funds to dwindle from P160.575 billion in 2020 to P143.5 billion in 2021. It forecast to have a reserve fund of P83.698 in 2022.       

Gierran took over the PhilHealth helm on September 17, 2020.       

PhilHealth officials lamented that subsidies from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation  (Pagcor) and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) do not go to them but to the Bureau of Treasury.     

‘’Parang walang nangyari. We did not feel anything,’’ Gierran said.