Press Release
August 16, 2018


"Hospitals are not prisons."

This was the statement issued today by Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros after she filed a bill imposing stiffer penalties to hospitals that detain patients and the deceased who fail to settle their hospital bills.

Senate Bill No. 1937 or the Strengthened Anti-Hospital Detention Bill seeks to put more teeth to Republic Act No. 9439, the country's existing anti-hospital detention law.

Under Hontiveros' proposed measure, the rights of patients and the families of the deceased will be fully protected by making it unlawful for hospitals, clinics and other similar facilities to detain partially or fully-recovered patients due to the inability to pay their medical bills. Same will be held true for the bodies of deceased loved ones. Hospital administrators may face a fine of P 1 million and imprisonment of up to six years.

"Ang mga hospital ay lugar ng gamutan, hindi kulungan. Hospitals should be places where people suffering from various ailments find ample medical treatment and care in the hands of doctors, nurses and other health professionals. Hospitals must not be seen as prisons depriving patients of their liberty in the event that they have difficulty settling their medical bills," Hontiveros said.

"Hospital licenses revoked"

Hontiveros also warned that under her measure, abusive hospitals, clinics and administrators may get their license to operate revoked for repeated violations.

"While I believe that the majority of our hospitals are committed to maintaining their ethical responsibilities to the public, we must not relent against the abusive. I believe that there is a way to balance patient rights and the right to be compensated in business. However, in the final analysis, healthcare is first and foremost a social service. The Filipino people's health is our top priority," Hontiveros stressed.

Under Hontiveros' bill, a promissory note and a guarantee letter from the Social Security System (SSS), Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) or the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) can be presented in lieu of a mortgage or guarantee by a co-maker. If the patient is or the deceased was an indigent, a guarantee letter from the Department of Social and Welfare Development (DSWD) will suffice.

Anti-Hospital Detention Fund

The measure also provides for the establishment of an Anti-Hospital Detention Fund to support poor and indigent patients. The said fund can be tapped by the government to help poor and indigent patients trapped by medical expenses. An initial P 1 million will be given to the health department to partly cover unpaid promissory notes issued by poor and indigent patients.

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