Solons eye scrapping of OFWs’ PhilHealth premiums

THE House committee on public accounts is set to file amendments to the Universal Healthcare Law following complaints from different groups representing overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) on the payment of Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PHilHealth)) premiums.

At the resumption of the virtual congressional inquiry on the PhilHealth irregularities, Chairman of the committee and Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor said they will study further the UHC Law and file amendments immediately in order to ease the burden of the OFWs , especially at this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We got orders from our Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano to prioritize OFWs. Sinabihan nya kami na alagaan ang mga OFWs, unahin ang kapakanan nila para na din sa kanilang pamilya,” Defensor said.

The amendments will focus on the delisting OFWs as direct contributors of Philhealth.

Under the UHC Law, OFWs are not sharing the cost of Philhealth dues with their respective employers and the premium has been increased by 3 percent.

Attending the virtual hearing, Susan Ople, the head of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, appealed to the lawmakers to pass a joint resolution indefinitelty suspending the hike in PhilHealth premium contributions of OFWs and migrant workers.

While deliberating on the amendments, Defensor reminded PhilHealth that President Duterte has issued  directive suspending the increase in the voluntary payment of premiums of the OFWs.

“It will be suspended until such time the President orders it. But we will also draft the amendments and approve it immediately,” Defensor added.

Meanwhile, as far as PhilHealth is concerned, the circular stating the increase in the premium payments of overseas Filipino workers could still take effect after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last April, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered that OFWs no longer would be required to pay premiums, and that it would only be made voluntarily.

But Danao said that PhilHealth’s interpretation of the President’s directive was that the voluntary payments would only be made during the pandemic period.

“Ngayon after the pandemic, dahil ang batas ay hindi pa na-amyendahan at yung PhilHealth circular na aming nailabas ay hindi pa na-amend, after the pandemic, magt-take effect pa rin ang PhilHealth circular,” he said.