Press Release
November 24, 2014


The Senate has ensured that the new law granting automatic health insurance to senior citizens regardless of their socio-economic status will be funded by next year's national budget.

According to Senator Chiz Escudero, chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, senior citizens are among the sectors that will benefit from the mandatory PhilHealth coverage under a new special provision in the 2015 general appropriations bill, which he sponsored.

Also to be covered are indigents and elected and appointed barangay officials, tanods and barangay health workers (BHW).

"Volunteer tanods put their lives on the line but receive a token pay. So are BHWs who only get a measly honorarium. The least we can do is to give them health insurance so when they are hurt in the line of duty, the treatment will be shouldered by PhilHealth," Escudero said.

The senator explained that funding for the "full premium subsidy" of the covered sectors will come from a P37.06-billion allocation of the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP) under the government's proposed spending package for next year.

Escudero has attached a special provision to this fund "so that those who need PhilHealth insurance but can't afford it will be covered."

"The continuing role of the government is to remove barriers and provide wider access to healthcare assistance which is a universal basic service," Escudero pointed out.

In addition to indigent seniors and barangay officials, the Escudero amendment mandates the automatic PhilHeath coverage of indigent families identified by the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR).

In order to ensure that this sector will continue to get health insurance coverage next year, the special provision also orders the retention in the 2015 list of the "poor and low income families who are currently enrolled in the NHIP."

The P37.06 billion earmarked for next year's NHIP will be used to pay for the PhilHealth membership premiums of 10.2 million "sponsored families."

Escudero said he specified "all seniors" in the special provision so that the newly-signed Republic Act No. 10645 will be fully implemented. "We don't want it to end up as an unfunded mandate."

Escudero was referring to the Act Providing for the Mandatory PhilHealth Coverage for All Senior Citizens, Amending for the Purpose RA 7431, as Amended by RA 9994, otherwise known as the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010, which President Aquino signed early this month.

For 2015, the Department of Health (DoH) has a proposed budget of P89.9 billion, up from P87.1 billion this year.

But the total health sector budget, including budgetary support for four Quezon City-based specialty hospitals, the Veterans Memorial Medical Center, and other non-DoH agencies, is P94.6 billion, according to a Department of Budget and Management briefer.

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