House Approves Bill Granting Healthcare Workers Benefits
The House of Representatives approved a bill regulating the benefits of medical workers in the Philippines.
During the hybrid plenary session on Wednesday, January 26, Congress approved, through voice voting, the second reading of the House Bill (HB) No. 10701 that aims to provide continuous benefits for healthcare workers (HWC) in both private and public sectors, including barangay health workers, amid COVID-19 and future medical emergencies.
The plenary passed HB No 10701, otherwise known as Public Health Emergency Benefits for Health Workers Act, two days after it was granted by the appropriations committee chaired by Anti-Crime and Terrorism Community Involvement and Support (ACT-CIS) Partylist and Benguet caretaker Rep. Eric Yap.
Yap expressed, “This is one of our ways to support our HCWs who are considered heroes in this pandemic. This is an affirmation of the commitment by our Congress to protect the welfare of our frontliners and somehow reciprocate the sacrifices they made for our country in battling COVID-19.”
Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte called other congressmen to hasten the passage of the bill in the plenary to complement the administration’s order for the release of ₱1.185 billion for the special risk allowance (SRA) of health frontliners.
Villafuerte stated, “The Congress can go one step further by passing the bill institutionalizing this allowance and other benefits for our medical frontliners.”
Villafuerte drafted House Bill No. 10365, which focuses on providing insurance coverage, special risk allowance, and other benefits to medical frontliners.
The proposed benefits will cover HCW that works in both private and public hospitals. The assistance will be granted to them throughout the period of the state of national calamity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The panel adopted the proposal of the Department of Health (DOH) to provide various benefits such as hazard pay, life insurance, accommodation, meal, transportation allowances, and more inclusive and “singular” COVID-19 benefits for HCW.
DOH Assistant Secretary Maylene Beltran stated that the health sector supports the purpose of the measures, with a goal to universally accord benefits for health care workers facing the pandemic.
Beltran cited, “While the Department of Health supports the intent propounded by the bills, it, however, proposes that a singular allowance be offered, which will cover and substitute for all the benefits enumerated in the bills.”
Beltran added, “In addition, the rate of the allowance will vary according to the risk exposure of the health care worker in particular work settings. They can be either low, medium, or high risk of exposure.”
On the other hand, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) mentioned that while it supports the bill, it raised concerns on the actual prerequisite of magnitude given the fiscal position of the government.
Apart from allowance, the substitute bill also states that in case of death, heirs of the covered worker will be able to receive ₱1 million, on the contrary in case of severe illness they will receive ₱100,000, for mild cases they will be provided ₱15,000.
The compensation in the proposed bill must be given to their beneficiaries on or before three months after the confinement or death of the covered individual.