No TRO yet vs PhilHealth contribution hike

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

MANILA -- The Supreme Court (SC) has decided to study first the government's justification for the rise in the monthly contribution of members of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) this year before entertaining the plea of militant workers to stop its implementation.

Because of this, SC spokesperson Theodore Te said respondents President Benigno Aquino III and PhilHealth were ordered on Tuesday to comment on the petition and application for temporary restraining order (TRO) filed by the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU).

KMU earlier asked the SC to nullify the increase in contribution through PhilHealth Circulars 24, 25 and 27 issued on various dates in September last year.

According to the circulars, individually-paying PhilHealth members with a monthly income of P25,000 and below will now pay a premium rate of P2,400 annually.

Salaried PhilHealth members earning less than P9,000 per month will now pay P200 per month, with the cost divided equally between employee and employer.

This translates to P12.50-P37.50 increase in employee pay-out per month, according to a statement released last week by KMU ally, Kabataan party-list.

PhilHealth management promised better assistance and benefits for members in exchange for imposing higher rates.

However, KMU said the expansion of PhilHealth's coverage and the improvement of the insurance corporation's benefits should be shouldered by the government.

Previously, the SC also did not act on KMU's request to issue a stay order on the 0.6 percent increase (from 10.4 percent to 11 percent) in the monthly contributions for members of the Social Security System (SSS).

Malacañang and the SSS management were only required to comment on the petition.

"We continue to call on the high tribunal to TRO the hikes in SSS and PhilHealth premiums after the hikes’ implementation last January. We are bothered that the SC’s refusal to immediately issue a TRO against the premium hikes may mean that it will sit on our petitions and allow the hikes to be collected," said KMU chairperson Elmer Labog.

A resolution was already filed by Kabataan for the House of Representatives to probe the legality and necessity of implementing the SSS and PhilHealth rate hikes. (Sunnex)

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