Philhealth says its 600 members nationwide may stop honoring Philhealth benefits because of the delayed release of reimbursements for services rendered but assures that all regional offices have made a commitment to pay claims of all providers faster than the 60 days processing time as mandated by law. Photo shows thousands of PhilHealth cards for General Santos beneficiaries taken last September 13, at Lagao gymnasium. Photo: Russell Delvo/Gensan Info Office

Philhealth says its 600 members nationwide may stop honoring Philhealth benefits because of the delayed release of reimbursements for services rendered but assures that all regional offices have made a commitment to pay claims of all providers faster than the 60 days processing time as mandated by law. Photo shows thousands of PhilHealth cards for General Santos beneficiaries taken last September 13, at Lagao gymnasium. Photo: Russell Delvo/Gensan Info Office

MANILA (Mabuhay) – Seeking to make health care more accessible to citizens, the Senate of the Philippines on Wednesday passed on second reading a bill aiming to extend the coverage of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to all senior citizens.

Senator Ralph Recto penned Senate Bill 712 which mandates the PhilHealth to automatically enroll all senior citizens regardless of their socio-economic status.

“Enrolling them must be automatic, not optional. The ideal is that the minute they blow out the candles on their 60th birthday cake to the moment they breathe their last – they should be PhilHealth members,” Recto said.

At present, Republic Act 9994 or Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 only indigent senior citizens are automatically covered by the national health insurance program.

Recto also added that the bill will cater to 2.2 million more senior citizens and will need P5.2 billion budget annually to be implemented.

The senator also said that the third reading approval of the bill is expected to be done next week. (MNS)