Press Release
July 30, 2018

Explanation of Vote Mandatory PhilHealth Coverage for PWDs
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto
Author, SBN 2895 (16th Congress), SBN 796 (17th Congress)
30 July 2018

Mr. President:

Not all accessibility ramps are made of concrete. Some are in the form of policies--like this bill, which allows persons with disability to access health care.

By passing this measure, we are in effect ordering the building of an accessibility ramp to PhilHealth, which PWDs can use for free.

The philosophy behind this legislation is simple, yet compelling: Those who physically face barriers in life should be spared from the same obstacles in enrolling in-- and enjoying-- medical insurance.

Based on official count, 1 in 50 Filipinos suffer from some form of disability. While the ratio is small, their actual numbers are not.

It means that the PWD nation is 2 million big--bigger than the number of enrollees in state colleges today.

But the actual number could be higher, as many live in the shadows of community; or having fallen in between the cracks of society, exist unseen and unattended to.

To help them, this bill mandates that they be automatically insured by PhilHealth. It is a coverage without an expiry date. It is an insurance that needs no renewal.

Funds to pay for their PhilHealth insurance premium will be sourced from sin tax revenues. This is a good case of a vice paying for the virtue of helping the vulnerable.

As to its fiscal implication-- because every law has a price tag, including this one--whatever it would be, I am sure, will be within the capacity of future sin tax payments to absorb.

In fact, tobacco and alcohol tax collections have always been bigger than government plowbacks to PhilHealth. In 2016, the sin tax haul was P144.2 billion, but the national government subsidy to PhilHealth was P43.8 billion.

The same was true the following year, when the yield from sin taxes reached P186.6 billion, but what the government gave to PhilHealth to insure indigent households was P53.2 billion.

On the wake of the latest COA report on PhilHealth, which details some hemorrhage in certain aspects of its operation, there are fears that this might be another mandate which the national health insurer will be hard-pressed to fund.

But the COA findings are remediable; and none of the mitigating measures require that to stop the bleeding, we must apply a financial tourniquet that will choke the flow of funds to the poor who need such aid the most.

This law will not render PhilHealth financially disabled.

Mr. President:

This law is not an act of charity, because to frame it as such is to condescend to a proud sector that deserves no such patronizing.

Rather, let us view it as a fulfilment of our duty to two million of our fellow citizens in order to help them triumph over the vicissitudes of life; and for those who are able, to fully realize their full potential as productive members of society.

This is a Senate whose role has always been to speak in behalf of those who can't, to listen to the cries of those who can't hear, to realize the vision of those who can't see, and to march for those who can't walk.

In passing this bill today, and in passing more pro-PWD bills in the future, the Senate is just being true to its role.

I vote yes to this measure.

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