Muscat: President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines signed the Universal Healthcare Law today.
Speaking to members of the Philippines' House of Representatives after signing the bill, Duterte said, "By automatically installing our citizens into the National Health Insurance Program and expanding health coverage to include free medical consultations and laboratory tests, the Universal health care law that I signed today will guarantee equatable access to quality and affordable healthcare services for all Filipinos."
Under the Universal Health Care Law, all Filipinos will be automatically enrolled in the proposed National Health Insurance Program (NHIP) either as direct or indirect contributors.
Direct contributors are defined as those who can pay health premiums while indirect contributors are those sponsored such as senior citizens. The law also expands Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) coverage to include free consultation tests and other diagnostic services.
Congressman and Deputy House Majority Leader Ron Salo explained, "As long as you are a Filipino, you are covered. Even if you are jobless, you are covered. Because under the Universal Health Care law, every Filipino is covered by PhilHealth. That is what is historic in this law."
He added, "Peace of mind. That is the government’s gift, particularly the President and Congress, to all Filipinos."
Tom Villarin, member of the House of Representatives and the Akbayan party-list, also lauded the passage of the Universal Health Care bill into law.
"(The) Akbayan party-list looks forward to the law’s full implementation, particularly government’s duty to ensure that enough medical professionals, facilities, and tools will actually deliver the law’s promise of health for Filipinos of all walks of life,” Villarin said.
Under the bill, Filipinos will now have access to a full spectrum of health care, including preventive, promotive, curative, rehabilitative, and palliative care for medical, dental, mental, and emergency health services.
Direct contributors will also get more benefits as premiums increase.
PhilHealth payments for local government unit (LGU) hospitals will also be set aside in a special fund to improve health facilities.