Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte on Friday pushed for the passage of a bill imposing P5 million penalty on health care providers that demand deposits on patients seeking hospital confinement.
Duterte filed House Bill (HB) 3046 to amend the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law which provides that the present fine of P 1 million, which he said “is too low and the penalty should be increased to deter the practice.”
HB 3046 also mandates the establishment of a government hotline where the public can immediately call to seek immediate assistance regarding violations of the law.
Together with Benguet Rep. Eric Yap and ACT-CIS party-list Reps. Edvic Yap and Jeffrey Soriano, Duterte said the current set of penalties imposed under Republic Act (RA) 10932 on erring employees and officials of medical facilities should be increased further, as “there is still a significant number of reports of hospitals violating the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law.”
“The (Anti-Hospital Deposit Law) asserts the rights of an individual to be admitted to any hospital and be given basic emergency care without being asked to hand over an advance payment outright. This is in consonance with the Hippocratic Oath that physicians take, pledging to help the sick to the best of their ability and knowledge,” the bill’s authors said.
“Hence, hospitals, in general, are duty bound to provide care and treatment to those who are injured or suffering,” they added.
Batas Pambansa (BP) 702 makes it unlawful for any hospital or medical clinic to demand deposits or advance payments for the confinement or treatment of patients in emergency and serious cases. Certain provisions of BP 702 have been amended under RA 8344 and RA 10932,and increased the penalties on hospital employees and officials violating the law.
RA 10932, signed by then President Rodrigo Duterte in 2017 and implemented the following year, penalizes hospital employees or medical practitioners found guilty of violating the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law with fines of P100,000 to P300,000 and/or imprisonment of six months to two years.
The same law also imposes higher penalties of imprisonment of 4 to 6 years, and a fine of P500,000 to P1 million, or both, on directors or officers of hospitals or clinics responsible for implementing policies or instructions that violate the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law.
Five years after the signing into law of RA 10932, Duterte wants even more severe penalties imposed on hospitals and clinics, complemented by the establishment of a Department of Health (DOH)-administered national hotline to make it easier to flush out the law’s violators.
Under HB 3046, a hospital employee, official or medical practitioner found violating the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law will be fined between P500,000 and P1 million or imprisoned from four to six years, or both, upon the discretion of the courts.
If the courts find that the violation was committed as a result of the medical facility’s established policy, or upon instructions of its management, the director or officer responsible shall be penalized with imprisonment of 6 to 12 years and/or fined P2 million to P5 million under the bill.
HB 3046 also adds a provision that would allow the filing of administrative cases against erring hospital employees and officials with the corresponding penalty of suspension, cancellation, or revocation of their professional licenses.
This is on top of the revocation of the medical facility’s license to operate by the DOH after three repeated violations of the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law arising from an established policy or instructions of its management.
Under the bill, the president, chairman, board of directors, or trustees, and other officers shall also be held solidarily liable for damages the court may award to the patient-complainant.