Press Release
March 1, 2017



Good afternoon, Mr. President and dear colleagues. It is both an honor and a privilege to sponsor SB no. 1353 under Committee Report No. 40, a bill which seeks to increase the penalties for the refusal of hospitals to administer initial medical treatment and support in emergency or serious cases by further amending BP 702, An Act Prohibiting the Demand of Deposits or Advance Payments in Emergency Cases, as amended by RA 8344. At the outset, let me express my gratitude to Sen. JV Ejercito, the new committee on Health Chairperson, for allowing this representation to sponsor the aforementioned measure. This is living proof that our work here is unhampered by the recent developments affecting this institution.

Of all the bills filed in the committee, I can say that this is the one that hits closest to home. Naniniwala po ako tulad ng marami sa atin, tulad ng lahat natin, na ang serbisyong pangkalusugan ay para sa lahat, may kaya man o mahirap, bata o may edad, lahat ay may karapatan sa abot-kaya at de-kalidad na serbisyong pangkalusugan. Ang hangad ko'y isang malusog na bayan kung saan walang may sakit ang maitataboy ng ospital at walang pamilyang mamumulubi sa pagpapagamot. Ang Anti-Hospital Deposit Law na gusto po nating amyendahan ay isang mabuting batas. Layon nitong protektahan ang karapatan at interes ng mga pasyente laban sa pang-aabuso. Hangarin din nitong mas mapabuti ang propesyon ng paggamot.

Ngunit, halos dalawampung taon na ang lumipas simula nang ipasa ang batas na ito, patuloy tayong nakaririnig ng mga kaso ng paglabag sa batas. We continue to hear these horror stories of patients, many of whom are indigent, being denied emergency treatment by erring hospitals simply because they failed to give deposit payments in exchange for medical care. The cases range from refusal to administer medical treatment to outright denial of confinement of patients which resulted in their further harm or worst, even death. This current state of things is unacceptable. No one should be refused adequate and quality medical care or unnecessarily die just because they are poor. Profit should not have supremacy over the health needs of the people. It not only negates the country's achievements in achieving universal healthcare, it is also inhuman. Ang deposito'y mababayaran; ang buhay na nawala ay hindi mapapalitan.

Mr. President, I believe the majority of our hospitals are compliant with the law. I'm confident that the majority of them do contribute in helping the government address the wide public healthcare gap. However, we cannot deny the fact that there are abusive hospitals that violate the law... treating patients as mere customers and healthcare simply as a money-making business. While they are few, they are enough to tarnish the good name and reputation of the noble medical profession and erode the people's faith in our medical institutions. We must put an end to this. We cannot deny the sad and tragic stories of those who fell victim to this cruel practice. They've already been denied once too many.

The proposed measure therefore seeks to increase the penalties for violations committed under the current law, but at the same time taking into consideration the concerns of hospitals and medical clinics by ensuring that the costs they incur in providing emergency medical care will be reimbursed by Philhealth or be tax deductible if not. Our bill, in essence, encourages compliance.

Specifically, the bill proposes the following:

1. Expanding the definition of emergency or serious cases to also cover pregnant women and their unborn child;

2. Defining what constitutes Basic Emergency Care;

3. Addition of a Presumption of Liability Clause to cover the hospital, medical clinic, and the official, medical practioner, or employee involved should serious harm come to a patient because of denial of admission pursuant to a policy of demanding deposit;

4. Establishment of a Health Facilities Oversight Board under the DOH, to be composed of PhilHealth representative and 3 reps from NGOs, that shall investigate claims of the patient and if warranted, impose administrative sanctions. The Board will also facilitate the filing of cases in court.

5. PhilHealth Reimbursement of Basic Emergency Care "basic emergency care and transportation services" of patients; and

6. Tax Deductibility of expenses incurred in providing "basic emergency care and transportation services" of patients not reimbursed by Philhealth

Mr. President and dear colleagues, it is my hope that by introducing the aforementioned amendments, we will discourage refusal to admit patients needing emergency medical treatment and show our people that health is indeed more important than wealth.

News Latest News Feed