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UHC law can’t be applied retroactively —DOJ

The Universal Health Care (UHC) Law and its penalties cannot be applied retroactively, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

In a seven-page legal opinion, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said all laws are prospective in application as a rule, meaning that laws should not apply to pending cases.

“Concomitant thereto, the penalties to be imposed are the prescribed penalties under the prior rules. Hence, the penal provision of Section 38(b) of RA No. 11223 cannot be given retroactive application,” Remulla said.

This came after PhilHealth officer-in-charge Dino Santos asked the DOJ if the UHC may be given retroactive application to pending cases if favorable to the respondents.

Remulla said Section 38(b) under the UHC provides a stiffer penalty though it may appear more favorable since the agency has the discretion to impose a penalty or fine only or suspension of contract or accreditation, or both.

He stressed that under the law, respondent health care provider may be imprisoned for six months and one day to six years. It also does not preclude PhilHealth from filing a separate civil action.

“Hence, under RA No. 11223, any erring health care provider will be held administratively, criminally, and civilly liable,” Remulla said.

Meanwhile, Santos also asked the DOJ on whether the agency may restore the accreditation of a healthcare provider.

Remulla, in response, said Republic Act 7875 or the National Health Insurance Act and the UHC state that repeat offenders or recidivists “may” no longer be accredited.

“The use of the word ‘may’ makes the provision permissive. Statutory construction instructs us that the word ‘may’ implies that it is not mandatory but discretionary,” he said.

“In short, the PhilHealth has the discretion to permanently revoke the accreditation of a health care provider or to restore its accreditation, depending on its findings and assessments,” Remulla later added. —KBK, GMA Integrated News