Senate seeks automatic PhilHealth membership for PWDs

The Senate approved today on third and final reading a bill seeking automatic Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) membership for persons with disability (PWD).

Senate Bill No. 1391, otherwise known as the Mandatory PhilHealth coverage for persons with disability, was approved with 18 affirmative votes, zero negative vote and no abstention.

The measure was introduced by Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto and Senators Loren Legarda, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Risa Hontiveros, Joel Villanueva, Leila de Lima, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Sherwin Gatchalian, Cynthia Villar, Juan Edgardo Angara and Panfilo Lacson.

Hontiveros, who sponsored the bill, said the proposed measure seeks to expand the benefits already given to PWDs through the Magna Carta for Persons with Disabilities by including automatic coverage to them.

Under the bill, Hontiveros said PhilHealth would shoulder all or some of the PWDs expenses when they get hospitalized.

“PWDs are one of the most vulnerable segments of the population. It is doubly difficult when you have a disability and you become sick,” she said.

Once approved into law, Hontiveros said PhilHealth would be required to develop exclusive packages for the PWDs, taking into account their specific health and development needs.

The necessary funding for the premium PWDs would be sourced from the sin taxes, she added.

Ejercito, co-sponsor of the SBN 1391, said the bill seeks to give PWDs the needed aid to sustain their medical needs, including treatments and medicines which they were compelled to take and undergo because of their disabilities and sickness.

“Through our laws, we aim to contribute in uplifting the PWDs welfare and spirits. When the time comes that persons with disabilities themselves do not feel the difference between being abled and not, we can say that we have served them well. Our laws have equalized the playing field,” Ejercito said. (PM)

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