Press Release
August 17, 2016

Hontiveros to establish "Sumbungan Board" for violators of Anti-Hospital Deposit Law

Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros eyes the establishment of a "Sumbungan Board" where the public can report violations of Republic Act 8344, otherwise known as the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law.

Hontiveros, Chair of the Senate Committee on the Health and Demography, filed Senate Bill No. 216 that calls for the establishment of a Health Facilities Oversight Board that will be tasked to probe the claims of patients who were denied treatment and services during emergency situations due to their inability to pay hospital deposit.

The Board will be composed of a Department of Health (DoH) representative, who will act as Chair, and representatives from the Philippine Medical Association (PMA), private health institutions and non-government organizations working on public health and advocacy.

"We want to prioritize the needs of our patients especially during emergency situations. The Sumbungan Board will provide a clear channel for redress of grievances by patients and ensuring their rights and welfare. In our quest for equitable healthcare system, we should be more sensitive to the plight of our patients, especially the indigents. Gamutin muna saka na kumita," Hontiveros said.

The bill likewise proposed for an increase in penalties for demanding, requesting, soliciting deposit or other forms of advance payment as pre-requisite for confinement or medical treatment. It recommends that penalties for violations of the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law should be from P20,000-P100,000 to P500,000-P1 million, exclusive of damages that may be rewarded to the patient-complainant.

The proposed legislation is also pushing for the revocation of the operating license of a health facility after three repeated violations. "We will not let our citizens denied emergency medical care just because they are poor. Despite inroads being made towards advancing universal health in the past decade, health care in the Philippines largely remains inaccessible to the poor," Hontiveros said.

The Senator is set to call for a committee hearing on the said bill on August 23 (Tuesday) to "determine the loopholes in implementation and take into consideration the best and worst practices of the law."

The bill also expands the definition of medical care to include women in active labor and at risk of miscarriage or fetal distress.

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