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Sen. Risa Hontiveros to Hospitals: “Admit emergency-case patients or face severe penalties”

MANILA. Hospitals may face harsher penalties and even revocation of their license to operate if they continue to refuse admission to patients who fail to make advance payments or deposits.

The bill amending Republic Act 8344 or An Act Prohibiting Demand of Deposits or Advance Payments for the Confinement or Treatment of Patients in Hospitals and Medical Clinics in Certain Cases was filed by Senator Risa Hontiveros. Hontiveros, a known health advocate, said that she is ready to go against private hospitals “if lives and rights of patients are at stake.”

Erring hospital administrators may face up to six years imprisonment and a fine of one million pesos. Repeated violations may cause revocation of the license to operate. On a lighter note, however, Hontiveros shared that her proposed legislation would provide incentives to hospitals that comply, including tax deductions, to encourage the partnership of public and private hospitals to close the healthcare gap.

The newly-elected senator said that the strengthening of the current law against hospital deposits is urgent, citing cases of private and public health facilities refusing to admit patients that have led to miscarriage and death. “We will expand the definition of ‘emergency’ by including women in active labor and at risk of miscarriage and fetal distress,” Hontiveros explained.

“Providing healthcare should not be just a money venture; it should first and foremost be a public service,” Hontiveros said. Hospitals have a social responsibility of contributing to the accessibility and availability of healthcare services in the country, she concluded.

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