Duterte certifies as urgent universal health care bill

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 11) — President Rodrigo Duterte is asking Congress to prioritize a bill providing universal health care to all Filipinos.

"The President yesterday announced that our pet bill when we were in Congress, the Universal Health Care Bill, which we sponsored and defended in the Lower House, was certified as urgent," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press briefing Tuesday.

Malacañang has yet to release a copy of the President's certification.

Roque on Tuesday discussed salient features of the Universal Health Coverage bill, which was passed by the House of Representatives in September 2017. A counterpart measure is pending before the Senate.

Under the House's version, all Filipinos will be covered by health insurance.

"Unlike the current system of [Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth)] na it's only available dun sa mga nagbabayad, may dalawa na tayong classification, contributing and non-contributing. Yung non-contributing, gobyerno na ang magbabayad ng premiums," Roque said. 

The bill also states PhilHealth will be reconstituted into a Philippine Health Security Corporation which would purchase national health services, including paying for medical professionals and buying medicines.

"Hindi naman po aangal ang mga doktor na yan dahil bagamat bababa ang kanilang [professional fee], dadami naman ang kanilang pasyente," Roque said.

[Translation: "Doctors won't complain because although their professional fees will be lower, they will have more patients."]

Noting that six in 10 Filipinos die without seeing a doctor, Roque said the government continues to work on having one barangay health station in each of the more than 42,000 barangays in the country and on building more regional health units.

The Health Department said it has roughly 20,000 more barangay health stations to build as of July.