Malacañang said Thursday the proposal to delay the implementation of the Universal Health Care or UHC Law is “illegal,” adding it has been certified urgent by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Palace spokesman Harry Roque says if the officials of Philippine Health Insurance Corp. cannot implement the UHC Law, then somebody must do it.
PhilHealth President and CEO Ricardo Morales had recommended a delay in the implementation of the UHC Law after saying the state health insurer could run a budget deficit until 2024 since its collections had significantly dropped this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But Senator Risa Hontiveros on Thursday joined her colleagues in rejecting PhilHealth’s proposal to defer the UHC law.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said the implementation of the UHC Law must proceed as a result of the health crisis.
Senator Christopher Lawrence Go, head of the Senate committee on health and demography, vowed to fight for additional funding for PhilHealth.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon warned against postponing the implementation of the law that would promote access to affordable care, strengthen primary health care and make the Filipino people healthy to fight COVID-19.
Roque made his remarks following Morales’ statement.
“My call to the leadership of PhilHealth is, if you cannot implement a law that was certified as urgent by the President himself, because he wants all Filipinos to have free medicine as he has done in Davao City, then maybe we should look for other people who can enforce that,” Roque told reporters.
He says if Morales cannot implement the UHC program, other people can be tapped to enforce the law.
He says he is not threatening Morales about his possible firing, but said, “It’s just that it is the law that has to be implemented.”
Roque even cited Go’s previous pronouncement that “if it needs to be funded by the government, then it will be provided. That’s really the central feature of Universal Health Care Law, it’s not ordinary medical insurance.”
Duterte signed the UHC bill into law in February last year.
The law expands access to health services by automatically enrolling all Filipinos in PhilHealth’s National Health Insurance Program.
Roque, who co-authored UHC when he was still a lawmaker, earlier said PhilHealth was losing money due to corruption.