Passage of universal health care bill seen before Christmas
By Manny Balbin
MARILAO, Bulacan (Philippines News Agency) — Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito, chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, on Monday expressed optimism that the Universal Health Care (UHC) bill seeking to give all Filipinos access to health care coverage and services, will become a law before Christmas.
Ejercito, principal author of Senate Bill 1986, the “Universal Health Care Bill,” said the bicameral conference committee would only need to reconcile the different provisions in two versions of the bill before bringing it to President Rodrigo Duterte for signing.
“If President Duterte will sign the measure, this will be a beautiful Christmas gift for all Filipinos,” said the senator, who served as guest of honor during the flag ceremony inside Marilao Municipal Hall on Monday morning.
Ejercito said the Senate passed the bill on third and final reading last week.
“All senators voted for the approval of the said measure. This came immediately after President Duterte’s call for the passage of the proposed measure at the Senate,” he added.
Ejercito said the passage of the bill into law would also expand the PhilHealth coverage to include free consultation fees, laboratory tests and other diagnostic services.
The senator also shared another landmark measure which has been approved in the Senate — the bill seeking to consolidate all housing agencies with the creation of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development.
He said the department would be responsible for all housing and urban concerns, including planning, policy-making, regulations, program coordination, and performance monitoring.
Aside from the two bills, Ejercito is also hopeful for the construction of the mass railway transport system known as North and South rail project by January 2019.
“The traffic in Marilao and even in the City of Malolos and other parts of Bulacan will be reduced because of the proposed railway system and modernization of the transport sector,” he said.
“Through this railway system, towns will continue to flourish along the railway system. Traffic will be discarded or reduced. Development is no longer centered in Metro Manila. It will spread to the provinces traversed of the railway system from Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Pangasinan to La Union and to PNR South from Laguna, Quezon to Bicol,” the senator added.
The young senator from San Juan City also distributed bag and learning materials to 2,000 students from 27 daycare schools in this town. (PNA)