By Hannah Torregoza
Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros on Sunday renewed her call for all hospitals to comply with the anti-hospital deposit law, warning that those who continue violating it would be penalized.
Hontiveros issued the call following the Department of Health’s (DOH) reported investigation into the complaints against hospitals that may have violated Republic Act 10932 or the Strengthened Anti-Hospital Deposit Law for allegedly asking for cash deposits from patients before administering basic emergency care.
“May batas na laban diyan. (There is already a law),” said Hontiveros, the primary author of the law said..
“Panatag ang loob ko na hindi pinapalampas ng DOH ang pagiging abusado ng ilang mga ospital, (I am confident that the DOH is not overlooking the cases of abuse of some of these hospitals),” the senator said.
Reports revealed that the DOH is now investigating as many as 77 cases of violation of the anti-hospital deposit law.
Hontiveros reiterated that in cases of emergency which can lead to a patient’s death, hospitals should not “request, solicit, demand, or accept any deposit or any other form of advance payment” before administering basic emergency care.
“Tandaan po natin: walang katumbas na pera ang buhay ng isang tao (Let’s remember, that a person’s life is priceless). This law exists precisely to protect every Filipino from hospitals that prioritize profit over care,” she stressed.
Hontiveros called on the public to test the anti-hospital deposit law and report such abusive cases immediately to health authorities.
She said that under the law, complaints are filed with the Health Facilities Oversight Board through the hotline 165-364 or e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“May tinalagang Sumbungan Board ang DOH para sa batas na ito. Isumbong natin ang mga abusadong ospital para matigil ang mga ganitong pangyayari, (The DOH has established a complaint desk for this law. Please file complaints against abusive hospitals to stop these incidents),” Hontiveros reminded the public.
Under the law, any hospital that is found guilty of violating the act, may be fined up to P300,000 and the guilty practitioner may face imprisonment of up to two years and four months.
If hospitals create and implement a policy of asking for deposits even in emergency cases, they will face fines of up to P1-million and a prison term of up to six years.
Three repeated violations can result in the revocation of the offending hospital’s or clinic’s license.
“Pinapaalala ko sa lahat na walang katumbas na kita ang buhay ng isang tao (I want to remind everyone that no amount of money can compare to human life). Profit will never trump people’s right to healthcare,” Hontiveros reiterated.