MANILA – The House of Representatives on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved on third and final reading a measure providing for a free annual medical check-up for Filipinos.
With a vote of 245-0-0, the chamber passed House Bill 9072, otherwise known as the “Free Annual Medical Check-up Act”, which aims to enhance programs focusing on preventive and curative medicine that advance the health and well-being of Filipinos and prevent disease, disability, and death.
Under the bill, all Filipino citizens, by virtue of their membership in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) mandated under Republic Act No. 11223 or the Universal Health Care Law, shall be entitled to the applicable benefits under the Philippine Health Insurance Program.
Members shall be entitled to a free annual medical check-up that shall include blood sugar and cholesterol tests.
Laboratory and diagnostic tests shall be expanded, subject to the availability of PhilHealth funds.
Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Michael Defensor said primary health care includes preventive care, to which medical check-ups fall under.
“This bill aims to secure that each Filipino shall be given the chance to have a free annual medical check-up to promote their right to health and health literacy,” Defensor said.
To promote health, identify risks, and ensure early diagnosis, PhilHealth shall establish a system that allows access to a free annual medical check-up and ensure that Filipinos shall be accorded the quality health care services that they deserve.
The amount necessary for the implementation of this proposed law shall be charged against the PhilHealth funds.
Bill regulating doctors
The lower chamber also approved on final reading House Bill 9061, which will regulate medical professionals in the country, with 236 affirmative votes, 6 negatives, and zero abstention.
Quezon Rep. Angelina Tan, author of the bill, said the proposed Physicians Act seeks to repeal the outdated Medical Act of 1959 that is no longer responsive to the scientific advancements and medical landscape of modern times.
Tan said the proposal will cover the regulation of medical education, which is inclusive of clinical clerkship, post-graduate medical internship, licensure and residency program.
“There are a myriad of problems besetting the medical profession revolving around medical education, licensure, practice, and specialization. This bill seeks to fill in the gaps created over time and streamline the entire medical education from pre-med, medicine proper, licensure, general practice up to specialization and, further, sub-specialization which the already ‘antiquated’ Medical Act has not anticipated to branch out, grow and develop,” Tan said.
The bill seeks to establish the Integrated National Professional Organization of the Physicians, which will serve as the national organization to which all physicians will become a mandatory member – a model patterned after the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.
One of the important features of the bill is the creation of the Post-Graduate Medical Education which will govern the standards, policies, certification, and training of all post-graduate trainings of physicians or the medical residency.
“The intention in creating this body is to streamline the certification of specialists in the country and to have a national regulatory and quality assurance arrangements for education and training for medical professionals,” Tan said.
The bill also features regulations governing medical residency training that were set to provide humane working conditions for residents, including decent salary and other benefits, and higher standards of professional conduct. (PNA)