Health care workers (HCWs) are now assured of receiving their COVID-19 benefits and allowances as long as the state of national public health emergency declared by President Rodrigo Duterte is in place, Senator Sonny Angara said.
As the sponsor and co-author of Senate Bill 2421 that was approved on the third and final reading today, Angara said there should no longer be any impediment in the delivery of the much-deserved benefits to HCWs.
The bill was filed by Angara and Senator Richard Gordon in response to the request by the Department of Health (DOH) for the passage of a law that will ensure the continuous grant of the benefits provided to HCWs under the now-defunct “Bayanihan” laws.
“While it was clear to the proponents of the Bayanihan laws in Congress that the grant of benefits to our health workers should continue for as long as the state of national emergency declared by the President is in place, the expiry of those laws became a cause of delay for the delivery of those benefits and this is what SB 2421 aims to address,” Angara said.
Once enacted into law, Angara said the benefits for the HCWs will be provided even beyond 2022, for as long as the state of national public health emergency is in effect.
Under the bill, all public and private health workers, regardless of employment status, will be granted a singular monthly COVID-19 Risk Allowance based on the following categories: P3,000 for those deployed in “low risk” areas; P6,000 for “medium risk” areas; and P9,000 for “high risk” areas.
Angara explained that the HCWs will be able to receive the full amount if they are able to physically report to work for at least 96 hours in a month.
Apart from the monthly allowances, the bill also provides for the compensation of HCWs who contracted COVID-19 while in the line of duty in the following amounts: P15,000 for mild or moderate cases of sickness; P100,000 for severe or critical cases; and P1 million in case of death.
Non-medical workers and outsourced personnel hired under institution or individual contract of services or job order basis who are assigned in health facilities and are similarly exposed to COVID-19 will also enjoy the same benefits.
Regular COVID-19 testing for the HCWs will also be provided and whenever any of them are confined due to COVID, they will enjoy full PhilHealth coverage to cover for the cost of hospitalization.
As defined under the bill, health and non-health workers refer to all public and private medical, allied medical, administrative, technical and support personnel and other necessary personnel employed by and assigned in hospitals, health facilities, laboratories, medical or temporary treatment and monitoring facilities or vaccination sites and those who are involved in COVID-19 response.
Barangay health workers (BHW) who are part of the DOH’s BHW registry system and are assigned in health facilities including swabbing and vaccination sites and those administering medical assistance, including those assigned in barangay health emergency response teams or their successor entities and involved in COVID-19 response are included as health workers and will also receive the same benefits.
Under the 2022 General Appropriations Act, a total of P51 billion was provided for the provision of COVID-19 risk allowance and compensation of HCWs.
Angara said the benefits under the bill shall have a retroactive application from July 1, 2021, and shall remain in full force and effect during the state of national public health emergency as declared by the President.
“With the passage of this measure and the funding already provided under the 2022 GAA, we expect the DOH to facilitate the provision of all the benefits due to our health workers without delay,” Angara said.
“We thank our colleagues who gave their full support to this measure, particularly our co-authors Sens. Richard Gordon, Imee Marcos, Nancy Binay, Risa Hontiveros, Joel Villanueva, Majority Leader Migz Zubiri, Bong Go, Ronald Dela Rosa, Kiko Pangilinan, Win Gatchalian, Francis Tolentino, Grace Poe, Cynthia Villar, Pia Cayetano, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, and Senate President Vicente Sotto III,” Angara added.