THE House of Representatives approved on second reading the bill granting the country's President the power to suspend the scheduled increase in the premium contributions of members of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) in times of national emergencies.

The proposed measure, House Bill 8461, was approved on second reading via voice vote on Tuesday.

House Bill 8461 amends Section 10 of Republic Act (R.A.) 11223 (the Universal Health Care Act).

R.A. 11223 provides for gradual increases in PhilHealth premium contributions.

A statement posted on Twitter by PhilHealth earlier this month read that the PhilHealth "is one with the President in his effort to ease the burden on many Filipinos being affected by the pandemic" and that "[i]n response to his directive, PhilHealth will still collect premiums from Direct Contributors using the 3 percent instead of the 3.5 percent contributions rate; and the P60,000 instead of the P70,000 ceiling in CY 2020."

CY is calendar year.

"The interim arrangement will be good until Congress is able to pass a new law allowing the deferment of the scheduled premium adjustment in the Universal Health Care Act of 2019. Should there be no new legislation passed for this purpose, the state health insurer will proceed with the scheduled premium rate and ceiling as provided for in the UHC Law", the statement posted by PhilHealth read.