Free COVID tests eyed

August 14, 2022 Jester P. Manalastas 94 views

A neophyte solon filed a measure making COVID-19 testing free for Filipino jobseekers; vulnerable workers in micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs); and the informal economy.

According to Quezon City Representative PM Vargas, the COVID-19 test should prioritize the job seekers and vulnerable workers.

The House Bill 1980 or the Free COVID-19 Testing to Promote Labor prioritizes employees who are excluded from current free testing packages under PhilHealth, as well as small businesses and job-makers who could no longer bear their workers’ regular costly tests.

“We hope to ensure that vulnerable Filipino workers who wish to provide for their family amidst the pandemic will be supported by government in accessing basic health services such as COVID-19 testing,” Vargas said.

HB 1980 mandates the Department of Health (DOH), as well as other concerned national government agencies, to provide “free and accessible” COVID-19 testing for vulnerable workers.

The proposed free COVID-19 testing covers: first-time jobseekers; unemployed persons actively seeking employment; MSME workers; independent, self-employed, small-scale workers; and displaced workers whose employment was permanently terminated due to the pandemic.

The measure also directs that test results shall not be used to discriminate against employees or circumvent and defeat protections for labor.

“In these trying times, providing free COVID-19 testing is the least we could and must do to support our workers – the heart and soul that keep the country’s economy running,” Vargas added.