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Makabayan bloc wants review of Universal Health Care Law

Members of the progressive Makabayan bloc have filed a resolution seeking to review the Universal Health Care (UHC) Law in light of the circular from the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) increasing the premium contributions of overseas Filipino workers (OFW).

The lawmakers electronically filed on Tuesday House Resolution 827, directing the House Committee on Health to conduct an urgent review on the UHC Law, as well as to suspend the implementation of provisions in question in the said act.

"There is a need to urgently review the Universal Health Care Law, along with its Implementing Rules and Regulations, with the goal of repealing the incremental premium rate hike for direct contributors, as well as the classification of migrant workers as direct contributors," the resolution read.

According to the UHC Law, direct contributors to the National Health Insurance Program will be paying premium contributors in a staggered manner starting 2019. For this year, those with monthly income ranging from P10,000 to P60,000 will be paying a premium of 3% of their salary.

This was the basis of the recent PhilHealth circular ordering OFWs to pay the 3% monthly premium for 2020.

The circular also said that members who fail to pay the premium contributions would be required to pay all missed contributions with monthly compounded interest.

The lawmakers said PhilHealth should not be allowed to impose a premium rate hike, especially that it has P97 billion reserve funds and net income of P11.6 billion.

"Filipino workers abroad are already struggling due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. This directive from the national insurance agency is inhumane, with its insistence on the hefty 3% premium rate plus interest for missed payments," they said.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier issued a directive to PhilHealth not to require OFWs to pay premiums anymore.

Gabriela Women's Party Representative Arlene Brosas, however, said a verbal order is not enough.

"Kailangang kongkreto ang maging aksyon kaugnay ng malaganap na reklamo ng ating mga kababayan na gustong pigain ng PhilHealth gayong humaharap na nga tayo sa COVID-19 pandemic," she said.

Apart from this resolution, the Makabayan Bloc will also file a bill to make the PhilHealth contributions of OFWs voluntary and to totally scrap the state health insurer's percentage-based premium rates. —LDF, GMA News