New Bill Seeks to Extend Health Coverage to “Junior Citizens”
Camarines Sur 2nd district Rep. LRay Villafuerte has introduced House Bill (HB) No.8312, which aims to provide automatic free coverage under the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP) for Filipinos under 12 years old, also known as “junior citizens.” This bill recognizes the need to support the younger sector and ensure their access to healthcare services.
Villafuerte, who is also the president of the National Unity Party (NUP), emphasizes the importance of government support for young citizens during their formative years. He believes that providing them with healthcare coverage will contribute to their overall development and equip them to become fully engaged adult citizens.
Under this proposed measure, junior citizens from families with annual incomes below P250,000 will enjoy additional benefits, including free medical and dental services, as well as laboratory fees in government health facilities. They will also receive a 20 percent discount and Value Added Tax (VAT)-exemption on medical, dental, and professional fees in private hospitals and clinics.
Furthermore, these junior citizens from low-income families will have access to free pediatric vaccinations offered by the Department of Health (DOH). Their parents or guardians will also receive a 20 percent discount and VAT-exemption on the purchase of their medicines and milk supplements.
The bill extends the 20 percent discount and VAT-exemption privileges to admission fees for theaters, cinema houses, concert halls, circuses, and leisure and amusement activities. Additionally, it includes funeral and burial services for junior citizens who pass away.
Villafuerte, a former three-term governor of Camarines Sur, holds a prominent position as majority leader of the Commission on Appointments (CA). His bill aims to address the healthcare needs of junior citizens, especially those from disadvantaged areas with limited access to healthcare services.
As discussions around the bill continue, advocates hope that this initiative will contribute to the overall welfare and well-being of young Filipinos, ensuring they have equal access to healthcare regardless of their socio-economic background.