Solon wants bigger fines for deposit law breach

A LAWMAKER wants to increase the maximum fine imposed on hospitals and clinics demanding deposits before administering treatment for emergency and serious cases.

From the current P1 million it should be raised to P5 million, along with other stringent penalties, under House Bill (HB) 3046 filed by Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte and three other lawmakers.

This proposed amendment to the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law also includes a provision mandating the establishment of a  government hotline where the public can immediately call to seek immediate assistance regarding violations of the law.

Together with Benguet Rep. Eric Yap and ACT-CIS Party-list Reps. Edvic Yap and Jeffrey Soriano,  the Davao City lawmaker said the current set of penalties imposed by Republic Act (RA) 10932 on erring employees and officials of medical facilities should be increased further, as  “there is still a significant number of reports of hospitals violating the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law.”

“The [Anti-Hospital Deposit Law] asserts the rights of an individual to be admitted to any hospital and be given basic emergency care without being asked to hand over an advance payment outright. This is in consonance with the Hippocratic Oath that physicians take, pledging to help the sick to the best of their ability and knowledge,” the bill’s authors said.

Batas Pambansa (BP)  702 makes it unlawful for any hospital or medical clinic to demand deposits or advance payments for the confinement or treatment of patients in emergency and serious cases. Certain provisions of BP 702  have  been amended under RA 8344  and RA 10932, and increased the penalties on hospital employees and officials violating the law.

RA 10932, signed by former President Rodrigo Duterte in 2017 and implemented the following year, penalizes hospital employees or medical practitioners found guilty of violating the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law with  fines of P100,000 to P300,000 and/or  imprisonment of 6 months to 2 years.

The same law also imposes higher penalties of imprisonment of 4 to 6 years, and a fine of P500,000  to P1 million, or both, on directors or officers of hospitals or clinics responsible for implementing  policies or instructions that violate the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law.

Five years after the signing into law of RA 10932, Duterte wants even more severe penalties imposed on hospitals and clinics, complemented by the establishment of a Department of Health (DOH)-administered  national hotline to make it easier to flush out the law’s violators.

Under HB 3046, a hospital employee, official or medical practitioner found violating the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law will be fined  between P500,000 and P1 million or imprisoned from 4 to 6 years, or both, upon  the discretion of  the courts.

If the courts find that the violation was committed as a result of the medical facility’s established policy, or upon instructions of its management, the director or officer responsible shall be penalized with imprisonment of 6 to 12 years and/or fined P2 million to P5 million under the bill.

HB 3046 also adds a provision that would allow the filing of administrative cases against erring hospital employees and officials with the corresponding penalty of suspension, cancellation, or revocation of their professional licenses

This is on top of the revocation of the medical facility’s license to operate by the DOH after three repeated violations of the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law arising from an established policy  or instructions of its management.

Under  the bill, the president, chairman, board of directors, or trustees, and other officers shall also be held solidarily liable for damages the court may award to the patient-complainant.

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