Risa Hontiveros —NIÑO JESUS ​​​​ORBETA

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Risa Hontiveros said Thursday that harsher penalties should be applied to hospitals and medical clinics that detain patients for non-payment of hospital bills.

This is in light of complaints filed by family members of deceased patients who were allegedly prevented from leaving a hospital in the city of Valenzuela because they were unable to immediately settle their expenses.

READ: Valenzuela Hospital under investigation due to allegations of detention

In a statement, Hontiveros said hospital detention is a “double burden” for patients as well as their families.

She particularly noted that if the allegation against Valenzuela hospital is true, then it is “blatantly committing crimes.”

“It is clear in the law that hospital detention is prohibited and anyone who violates it can be arrested and fined. The Department of Health must take immediate action on this and ensure that incidents like these do not happen again,” Hontiveros said.

(It is clear in our law that hospital detention and anyone who goes against this may be required to pay a fine or may go to prison. The Department of Health must take immediate action on this and ensure that incidents like these do not happen again .)

The development then led Hontiveros to reiterate his call for the urgent need to approve the measure he introduced in 2022 – Senate Bill No. 140, which aims to increase penalties for detaining patients in hospitals and medical clinics due to lack of payment of hospital bills. .

Under the measure proposed by Hontiveros, the prison sentence for officials or health facilities who block the release of patients will be increased from six months and one day to up to two years and four months, while the fine will be increased to P100,000 at P300,000.

“Under the current anti-hospital detention law, the prison sentence is set at one month to six months, while the fine is set at P20,000 to P50,000. The law only applies to indigent or infirmary patients and not to those admitted to private rooms,” Hontiveros explained.

Furthermore, Hontiveros' bill also imposes an additional penalty of four to six years in prison and/or a fine of P500,000 to P1 million on directors or officers who establish this as policy in their health facilities or instruct employees to detain patients. for non-payment of bills.

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