PHAP plans to ask SC to stop anti-hospital deposit law

Mara Cepeda
Senator Risa Hontiveros hits the looming petition, saying, 'Common sense and basic humanity dictate that lives are more important than profit'

LOOMING LEGAL BATTLE. The Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines wants to halt the implementation of the newly signed law imposing tougher sanctions on hospitals demanding deposits before treating patients during emergencies.

MANILA, Philippines – The Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines (PHAP) wants the Supreme Court (SC) to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the newly signed law imposing stiffer penalties on hospitals demanding deposits in emergencies.

PHAP president Rustico Jimenez confirmed this to Rappler on Monday, August 7.

“Yes. We will have a press conference on August 14 [at] 9 am [at the] World Citi hospital [in] Quezon City to report when [we will file],” said Jimenez in a text message.

Jimenez refused to divulge the reasons why PHAP wants the SC to issue a TRO, saying their lawyers would provide an explanation during the press conference.

Last week, President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law Republic Act (RA) No. 10932 or the Anti-Hospital Deposit Act, which amends Batas Pambansa Bilang 702 (as amended by RA 8344).

Under RA 10932, hospital personnel or executives stand to face a fine of P100,000 to P300,000 or imprisonment from 6 months and one day to two years and 4 months, or both should they demand deposits from patients in serious medical conditions before giving treatment. 

RA 10932 also says that if the violation was committed because it complies with established hospital or clinic policy, or was done upon the management’s instruction, the hospital official responsible for the creation of that policy will be fined from P500,000 to P1 million. 

The hospital and the medical practitioner or employee involved are presumed to be liable if the patient dies or sustains a permanent disability or serious impairment of their health due to the denial of treatment.

PHAP strongly opposes the law’s new provisions, with Jimenez previously telling dzBB that Duterte was allegedly given the “wrong advice” in signing it. 

“Ang palagay ko po nabigyan siya ng maling advice. Kasi po tumutulong na po sa government hospital. Alam ‘nyo naman po ‘yan, pag ‘di na tayo nakapila sa ano… ‘di naman tayo makikita. So pupunta ka sa private. Ang mangyayari po gagawin ng private ‘yung kailangan. ‘Di naman po papabayaan ng private eh,” Jimenez said. 

(I think he was given the wrong advice. Because government hospitals are helping already. If you don’t get to line up… you will not be seen. So you’ll go to the private hospital. The private hospital will do what’s necessary. It won’t neglect you.)

Lawmakers’ misstep?

The PHAP president added that the new law was made by legislators who are unaware of what is truly happening inside emergency rooms.

“Dapat hindi na po ginawa ng mga politiko natin ‘yan eh. Nagpapaganda lang po sila ng papel. Hindi naman po nila nakikita ‘yung ginagawa ng mga private hospitals and government hospitals especially sa emergency room,” he added.

(Politicians should not have created this law. They’re just beefing up their resumés. They don’t really see what private and government hospitals are doing, especially in the emergency room.)

The PHAP president instead recommends that the government give tax exemptions to hospitals and medical facilities.

Senator Risa Hontiveros said, however, that there is nothing objectionable in the law she principally authored. 

“Pati ba naman ang buhay ng mga pasyente gusto pang pagdebatehan sa Korte Suprema? Common sense and basic humanity dictate that lives are more important than profit. Buhay muna bago kita. Ang deposito mababayaran, ang buhay na nawala ay hindi na mapapalitan,” said Hontiveros.

(Even the life of a patient they want to be debated upon by the Supreme Court? Common sense and basic humanity dictate that lives are more important than profit. Life before profit. You can pay for deposits, but life is irreplaceable.) – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.