PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law a bill imposing stiffer penalties on hospitals that turn away patients who cannot afford deposits for emergency care.
Republic Act (RA) 10932 or “An Act Strengthening the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law,” increases the financial penalties on hospitals and medical clinics that refuse to provide basic emergency services to patients who cannot make advance payments.
Under the law, hospitals are prohibited and are penalized for requesting, demanding or accepting any deposit or any form of advance payment before patients are confined or treated.
They are also prohibited from refusing to administer medical treatment and support to prevent death or permanent disability.
Under the new law, fines on hospitals refusing to administer basic emergency treatment were hiked to P500,000 up to P1 million, from P100,000.
Officials of erring hospitals face four to six years of imprisonment.
The Department of Health (DOH) may revoke the licenses of hospitals and clinics to operate after three violations.
“The president, chairman, board of directors, or trustees, and other officers of the health facility shall be solidarily liable for damage that may be awarded by the court to patient-complainant,” the law states.
RA 10932 also proposes the establishment of the Health Facilities Oversight Board under the DOH to investigate patient claims and facilitate the filing of cases in court.
The Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) was mandated to reimburse the cost of basic emergency care and transportation services incurred by the hospital or medical clinic for emergency medical services given to poor and indigent patients.
The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, meanwhile, was tasked to provide medical assistance related to basic emergency care needs of the poor and marginalized groups.
“Other expenses incurred by the hospital or medical clinic in providing basic emergency care to poor and indigent patients not reimbursed by PhilHealth shall be tax deductible,” the new law states.