“It is unjust to ask a dying person to cough up money before even attempting to save his or her life.”
This was the remark of Senator Risa Hontiveros, author of the Strengthened Anti-Hospital Deposit Law, as she pressured the Department of Health, local government units (LGU) and law enforcement agencies to actively monitor and enforce sanctions through their regulatory powers on hospitals that violate the law by demanding cash deposits from emergency patients before providing treatment.
“Bakit natin itinataboy ang mga pasyenteng nasa hukay na ang isang paa? Dapat maparusahan ang lumalabag sa batas. Hindi makatarungang may mga pasyenteng namamatay dahil sa kawalan ng pera lalo na sa gitna ng isang health crisis,” she said.
Earlier in the pandemic, Hontiveros warned hospitals that non-compliance to the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law will result in hefty fines and even imprisonment. Under the law, hospitals that will demand any form of advance payment as a prerequisite to life-saving treatment will face imprisonment of up to 6 years, and a fine of P1,000,000. This can also lead to the revocation of their licenses to operate. Likewise, errant hospital employees will face imprisonment of up to two years and 4 months, and a fine of up to 300,000.
The senator welcomed the criminal charges filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) against two hospitals that refused to admit a pregnant woman without initial deposit in April, leading to her death.
“I hope the NBI, with the assistance of DOH and LGUs, will continue to file criminal charges against similar violators. Hospitals must not get away with these unjust refusals that literally kill our fellow Filipinos,” she said.
Hontiveros urged the LGUs to mobilize their Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams (BHERTs) to “own up to this life-saving responsibility, especially that they have consistently received assistance from the government in all health emergencies, including COVID-19.”
“The DOH and LGUs must be vigilant in monitoring hospitals. Kaysa hintayin pa nating ang mga tao ang magsumbong, dapat may mga handang opisyales na laging nagbabantay sa kanila,” she said.
“Two people, a mother and her child, died that day, as countless others have because of this selfish practice. Dapat siguraduhin natin na wala nang magbubuwis ng buhay. Buhay ng mga Pilipino ang dapat unahin kaysa sa kita,” she concluded.