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President Duterte Just Signed a Law That Provides Health Care for All

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In a monumental move, President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law that seeks to grant every Filipino access to health care services on Wednesday, February 20.

The President had a special signing ceremony in Malacañang to formally affix his signature to the “Universal Health Care (UHC) for Filipinos” law. Under the measure, every Filipino, even non-contributors to the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), gets access to “preventive, promotive, curative, rehabilitative, and palliative” health care services.

The UHC seeks the automatic inclusion of every Filipino citizen in the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP). Senator Joseph Victor "JV" Ejercito, principal author of the Senate’s version of the bill, previously said it would allow all Filipinos to get free consultation services and laboratory tests on top of the services currently covered by the PhilHealth in both private and public health facilities.

Previously, PhilHealth members and their dependents will only be entitled to in-patient and out-patient medical care provided that they have made premium payments in least three months and within the six months prior to the date of their availment of the services.

With the new law, PhilHealth’s members will be categorized into two types: direct contributors or those who can pay health premiums and indirect contributors or those who have no capacity to do so.

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To provide funding for expanded health services for all Filipinos, especially the poor, the law will pool contributions from state-owned gaming companies such as Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR). On top of the annual budget funded to the Department of Health, the law also seeks to collect income from sin taxes to properly fund the service.

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Elyssa Christine Lopez
Elyssa Christine Lopez is a staff writer of Esquire. Follow her on Twitter @elyssalopz
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