DOH seeks passage of Sin Tax II, UHC

As the country waits for a Senate version of a bill institutionalizing the Department of Health’s Universal Health Care (UHC) program, an official said there is also a need to pass the second edition of the Sin Tax Law.

“Once we have UHC, we also have to pass the Sin Tax II,” said Health Undersecretary Dr. Rolando Enrique Domingo.

Domingo said the move to pass Sin Tax II is to decrease further the use of tobacco products, and to increase the taxes to about P50 billion a year.

More expensive tobacco products, he said, would discourage smokers from continuing the habit and scare non-smokers to pick it up.

At the Senate, Senators Manny Pacquiao and JV Ejercito are proposing increases to the price of cigarette packs ranging from P60 to P90, including a 9% inflationary increase per year.

“Of course, we want the P90,” Domingo said.

The official was a guest at the Changing Systems for Savings Lives: A Sustainability Forum on Maternal and Newborn Health at the Marco Polo Davao Thursday.

Domingo said the government needs to centralize all funds that would finance the health care needs of patients.

Alongside the Department of Health (DOH) budget, the funds of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) for health care will be pulled into one big pot so that everybody will have access to it, he added.

The government is pushing for a zero-balance billing by exhausting all health funding from different agencies.

These include the PCSO, PhilHealth, local government units, and other agencies.

Currently, Domingo said 97% of around 100 million Filipinos are covered by PhilHealth.

But there is no program requiring government to assist patients in one funding program.

In hospitals, for example, patients or their relatives line up and knock at windows of different agencies, even at one-stop shops for financial assistance.

Some patients are also not aware of the government’s assistance programs.

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