Press Release
November 28, 2015

Senate OKs P14.3 B funding for PhilHealth coverage
and monthly pension for seniors

Included in the 2016 national budget the Senate approved on Thursday is a P6.78 billion allocation to place 2.8 million senior citizens under PhilHealth coverage, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto said today.

Also funded by the P3 trillion spending measure is the P7.51 billion required to grant a P 6,000 annual aid to 1,182,914 million indigent 60 year olds and above, he added.

Recto said the P6.78 billion for the medical insurance of seniors is part of the P43.84 billion that government will spend next year for insurance premiums of 18.24 million poor households.

The funding complies with Republic Act 10645, which Recto authored, which makes mandatory the automatic PhilHealth membership of the country's senior citizens.

Under the implementing rules of the law, seniors need not present a PhilHealth card, only a valid ID proving identity and age, to avail themselves of PhiIHealth benefits.

There are approximately 6.3 million senior citizens today. Of this, an estimated 2.8 million are neither PhilHealth members, nor dependents of PhilHealth members.

The P6.8 billion allocation will pay for the health insurance of those not presently captured by any of PhilHealth coverage schemes.

On the DSWD-run Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens Program, Recto explained that next year's funding level of P7.51 billion is P1.54 billion bigger than this year's P5.96 billion.

The P1.54 billion hike would fund the enrolment of an additional 243,332 seniors, whose numbers will increase to 1,182,914 from this year's 939,609.

"We are promoting the idea that all indigent seniors 60 years old and above must be covered by the proposed allocation. The policy is No Senior Left Behind," Recto said.

He said the Senate has a "good track record" in expanding the coverage of "social protection programs."

He cited the 2015 budget of the senior pension program, which was originally pegged at P4.76 billion but which the Senate successfully raised to P5.96 billion, "by cutting the fat in the budget and rechanneling it to good programs."

The grant of a monthly pension to "economically disadvantaged" seniors is mandated by Republic Act 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.

The said law defines an "indigent senior citizen" as someone, 60 years old and above, who is "frail, sickly, or with disability, and without pension or permanent source of income, compensation or financial assistance from his relatives to support his needs."

Recto said efforts are still underway to increase the budget for senior pension "as there are claims that the amount does not cover all seniors who should be beneficiaries of the program."

As a result of discovered data discrepancies, the DSWD and the advocacy groups for senior citizens had lobbied for an additional P1.8 billion to place 285,793 seniors more in the program.

Recto had included in the committee report of the Senate finance subcommittee he chairs a P2.8 billion augmentation in the senior pension program.

This was not, however, carried in the General Appropriations Bill, which the Senate approved Thursday.

"Hopefully, the requested amount, or at least a portion of it, will be considered favorably during the Bicameral Conference Committee on the national budget, " he said.

The House and Senate panels that will reconcile their differing versions of the national budget will meet on Dec.1 at the Senate.

News Latest News Feed