House OKs anti-hospital deposit bill on second reading

MANILA — The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved on second reading a bill seeking to impose stiffer penalties upon hospitals with policies of refusing to provide basic emergency services to patients who cannot make advanced payments.

Through voice voting, the lower chamber passed House Bill No. 5159 or the Anti-Hospital Deposit Bill.

Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin, one of the authors of HB 5159, said the bill aimed to ensure that all private and public hospitals would admit patients in emergency situations — including women in active labor and at risk of miscarriage— without requiring a deposit fee.

“We want to save more lives. Buhay ang nakasalalay dito. Ang pera, kayang tawaran. Ang buhay, hindi,” Villarin said

Upon conviction in court, hospital owners can face from four to six years of imprisonment, and/or fines ranging from Php 500,000 to Php 1,000,000, aside from damages that may be awarded to the patient-complainant.

Violating the proposed law for three times may lead to suspension or revocation of erring hospitals’ license to operate.

In addition, the president, chairman, board of directors or trustees, and other officers of the health facility will be held solidarily liable for the damages that may be awarded by the court to the patient-complainant.

Under the bill, the Department of Health is directed to create a mediation board to initially settle complaints before formal and legal charges are filed against hospitals. Filane Mikee Cervantes/