The Department of Health (DOH) today thanked legislators from both the Senate and House of Representatives who expressed their support to immediately pass the Universal Health Care (UHC) bill while also emphasizing the need to increase tobacco tax as a major source of funding to make UHC feasible.
Last 23 July 2018, the UHC bill was pronounced as a priority of the Duterte administration during the President’s State of the Nation Address (SONA). Its passage will help address the pressing issues on the access to quality and affordable health services by the Filipino people.
The proposed reform particularly intends to protect all Filipinos from the high cost of care through PhilHealth, enhance service delivery by strengthening primary care, and improve regulatory and governance capacities within the health sector.
With the passage of the Sin Tax Law of 2012, tobacco use prevalence significantly decreased among adults from 29.7% in 2009 to 23.8% in 2015 (Global Adult Tobacco Survey). The proposed increase in tobacco taxes is expected to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases by further decreasing smoking prevalence among Filipino adults up to 18.6%-15.7%.
Aside from the greater health benefits of substantially increasing tobacco taxes, additional revenues to be generated from the proposed increase are in a bid to support and fund the UHC reform in the country.
“We encourage our legislators, especially those supporting UHC, to also push for the increase of tobacco taxes,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III explained. “Increasing tobacco taxes is a win-win policy for UHC and the Filipino people. We need to ensure that there is sustained funding to achieve the intentions of the reform,” he added.
The DOH strongly supports the bills filed by Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao (SB 1599) and Senator JV Ejercito (SB 1605), seeking to further increase in the unitary excise tax of cigarettes.
The proposed UHC and tobacco tax reform would comprehensively address health needs of the population.