Senate approves on third reading bill granting allowances, benefits to COVID-19 health workers

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Senate approves on third reading bill granting allowances, benefits to COVID-19 health workers

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February 1, 2022 | 10:25am Public and private healthcare workers stand to receive risk allowances and other benefits from the government if Senate Bil

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February 1, 2022 | 10:25am

Public and private healthcare workers stand to receive risk allowances and other benefits from the government if Senate Bill 2421 is passed into law.

STAR / Boy Santos, file

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate passed on the third and final reading a bill that provides allowances and other benefits to health workers on the frontline of keeping COVID-19 at bay. 

If passed into law, Senate Bill 2421 will give private and public health workers access to varying allowances based on their risk exposure, financial support if they contracted the virus, regular COVID-19 testing by Philhealth, and full Philhealth coverage for direct healthcare costs.

The bill seeks to retroactively apply from July 1, 2021 onwards, remaining in full force during the state of national public health emergency due to the spread of the highly-infectious virus. 

“The approval of the bill on third reading is the Senate’s way of helping tend to the wounds of our frontliners… Time and again, they have been dubbed as modern-day heroes, at war with an invisible opponent,” Sen. Bato dela Rosa said in a statement on Monday. 

The measure will cover all health workers assigned to health facilities, vaccination sites, or in designated areas dedicated to curbing the transmission of COVID-19. 

Eligible workers will receive risk allowances of P3,000, P6,000 and P9,000, respectively, if they have low, medium or high-risk exposure to the virus. 

Workers with low-risk exposure are those performing administrative duties in non-public areas of health facilities away from other personnel and patients, while those with medium risk exposure are the ones who provide direct physical care to the general public who are not suspected of contracting COVID-19. 

Meanwhile, workers with high-risk exposure are the ones who enter a COVID-19 patient’s room to provide medical services.

The bill also aims to supply financial support to health workers who get infected with the virus in the line of duty. In case of death, the covered worker’s heirs will receive a sum of P1 million. 

Meanwhile, workers afflicted with the disease can get up to P100,000 depending onthe severity of the sickness.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, who supported the bill, said that the measure also covers non-medical workers and outsourced personnel.

“Sanitation workers, housekeepers, janitors, critical equipment operators, to name a few, are frontliners, too. Without them, a hospital will collapse,” he said.

The OCTA Research Group, an independent research group monitoring the pandemic, has recently placed Metro Manila, Cavite and Rizal under a moderate risk classification, after noting a downward trend of daily COVID-19 cases in these areas. 

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