MANILA, Philippines – Both houses of Congress has passed on 3rd and final reading the bill that would make it mandatory for the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to cover the medical expenses of persons with disabilities (PWDs).
Lawmakers voted 204-0-0 in favor of House Bill (HB) No. 8014 on Monday, October 8, more than two months after senators approved on 3rd and final reading Senate Bill (SB) No. 1391 on July 30.
The measure would add a new section to Republic Act No. 7277 or the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons that would impose a mandatory coverage for all PWDs “not currently afforded health insurance under any existing category” under PhilHealth’s National Health Insurance Program.
HB 8014 would task PhilHealth and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to draft the necessary rules and regulations for the medical insurance coverage for PWDs.
SB 1391 gives this responsibility not just on PhilHealth and DSWD, but also the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA), Department of Health, Department of Labor and Employment, and local government units.
The Senate version of the measure also requires all the said government agencies to conduct a periodic monitoring and evaluation of the insurance program. The House bill does not have this provision.
Lawmakers will now have to form a bicameral conference committee, which will reconcile the conflicting provisions of the bill.
Both the House and the Senate should ratify the reconciled version of the measure before it can be brought to Malacañang for President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature.
In December 2017, NCDA executive director Carmen Zubiaga called on the government to expand the social protection given to PWDs, particularly in terms of health coverage. (READ: PWDs push for automatic PhilHealth coverage)
Advocates are also pushing for the establishment of a Persons with Disability Affairs Office in each city or municipality. – Rappler.com
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