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AnaKalusugan party-list pushes for VAT exemption of more medicines, drugs

AnaKalusugan party-list has urged the government to expand the list of VAT-exempt medicines and drugs as out-of-pocket health expenditure of Filipinos rose by P18.98 billion last year compared to the total in 2019, driven largely by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While we welcome the move of President Rodrigo Duterte to set a price cap for more drugs for the leading causes of morbidity in the country, we believe that removing the 12 percent VAT on other drugs and medicines will benefit our kababayans more,” said AnaKalusugan nominee Ray Reyes.

The party-list has been at the forefront of the fight to make all maintenance medicines and drugs VAT-free even before it won a seat at the House of Representatives in 2019.

At present, only maintenance medicines for diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol are covered by the VAT-exempt privilege.

Duterte on Tuesday signed Executive Order No. 155 which sets the maximum retail price for 34 drug molecules and 71 drug formulas used for analgesis, anti-asthma, antibiotics, antidiabetic, and immunosuppressant drugs, among others.

“By removing the VAT on these drugs, you lower the out of pocket expenditure of Filipinos who are already burdened by the pandemic. With millions of Filipinos who lost their jobs or are underemployed, every peso that our kababayans can save is important,” the AnaKalusugan party-list nominee said.

“Especially in the context of the ongoing public health crisis, it is the Constitutional mandate of the state to adopt a comprehensive approach to health development and to make essential goods and health services available to all people at an affordable cost,” Reyes added.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed healthcare spending in the country increased by nearly 13 percent to a record high of P896 billion in 2020 from P796 billion in 2019.

Household out-of-pocket payment stood at P400 billion or 44.7 percent of the total.

This meant that on the average, every Filipino spent P8,216 for healthcare goods and services last year, 10.7 percent higher than the P7,422 in 2019.

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