Press Release
September 25, 2019


Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros today pushed to strengthen a law prohibiting hospitals from barring the discharge of patients and even cadavers due to financial incapability. She said that the measure is needed to safeguard patients' rights, especially in light of the outbreak of dengue, measles and other serious diseases in the country.

Hontiveros, who authored and filed Senate Bill No. 166, otherwise known as the Strengthened Anti-hospital Detention Law, urged her colleagues to urgently pass the measure, warning that thousands of those being treated now at hospitals nationwide for dengue, measles, polio and other diseases, many of whom are poor, "may be vulnerable to acts of abuse by nefarious hospitals if they are unable to pay the often staggering costs of treatment for those diseases."

"Sa panahon ng iba't-ibang epidemiya and with the ongoing push towards universal healthcare in the country, ang mga hospital ay dapat lugar gamutan at hindi kulungan," Hontiveros said.

"Patients are not prisoners. Sila ay mga pasyente, hindi mga detainees. While we recognize that costs of hospitals must be covered for continued operations, the top priority should be the people's health," she added.

The Department of Health (DOH) earlier reported an alarming rate of 250,000 cases of dengue in 2019 alone. The DOH has also declared a measles outbreak in the National Capital Region (NCR) earlier this year, and announced the re-emergence of polio - a disease without a cure - in the country after 19 years.

Hontiveros said that her measure seeks to impose stiffer penalties on hospitals and clinics that will prevent the discharge of patients and cadavers due to financial incapacity, such as revocation of licenses for such establishments and a prison term of up to 6 years for erring administrators. The bill will also establish an Anti-Hospital Detention Fund to support the payment of indigent patients, and allow unpaid patients to use guarantees from the Social Security System (SSS), Government Service Insurance (GSIS) or the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) instead of an actual mortgage or guaranty currently required by law.

Hontiveros is also the principal author and sponsor of Republic Act No. 10932 or the Strengthened Anti-hospital Deposit Law in the 17th Congress. The law prohibits hospitals from asking for any deposit or advance payment as a prerequisite for admission or medical treatment of emergency-case patients.

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