Duterte urges 'speedy passage' of universal health care bill

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte urged Congress during his 3rd State of the Nation Address (SONA) Monday, July 23, to swiftly pass the Universal Health Care (UHC) Bill, which aims to ensure all Filipinos will get access to adequate health services.

During his address, Duterte said “policy and operational bottlenecks” have hindered the access to health care in the Philippines despite investments. 

“Much needs to be done to improve our healthcare system, which remains highly fragmented, resulting in disparity in health outcomes between the rich and the poor in the urban areas and rural,” Duterte said. (Duque: Access to primary health care depends on coordination with LGUs)

He added, “I urge the speedy passage of the Universal Health Care Bill authored by former representative Harry Roque.”

Back when Roque was a congressman, he said that if universal health care becomes a law, “every Filipino is granted the right to health by virtue of citizenship.”

Roque also said in universal health care individuals and communities will get the “full spectrum” of health services they need, from health promotion to prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care. 

The proposed law also plans to reorganize the Philippine Health Insurance System (PhilHealth) into the Philippine Health Security Corporation, which will then be the “national purchaser of health services.”

Membership in the UHC will either be contributory, in terms of public and private workers; or non-contributory for people who do not give contributions, such as indigents.

Last July 9, President Rodrigo Duterte certified as urgent the bill seeking universal health care for Filipinos.

While the House has passed its version of the bill (House Bill No. 5784), the counterpart measure in the Senate (Senate Bill No. 1458) is still pending in the committee level. – with a report from Bea Cupin/Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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