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Pimentel's bill seeks VAT exemption for mental health medicines.

Senator Aquilino Pimentel III wants medicine prescribed for people with mental health conditions to be included in the list of medicines exempted from value-added tax (VAT).

Pimentel has filed Senate Bill No. 2193, which seeks to expand the list of VAT-free medicines by amending a provision in the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997, particularly Section 109.

He noted that while the Mental Health Act has made mental health services accessible and integrated the mental health care in the basic health services, the law does not cover the cost of drugs and medicines

'To sustain the treatment or prevention of mental health conditions, it is imperative that drugs and medicines are made affordable,' Pimentel said in a statement on Wednesday.

'To bring down the cost of drugs and medicines prescribed for mental health conditions, this bill proposes to exempt them from the imposition of VAT,' he added.

More than 100 maintenance medicines for diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol are VAT-free following the implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law.

The 12-percent VAT exemption took effect on Jan. 1 this year.

Pimentel, in his explanatory note in the bill, pointed out that records from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that mental illness and mental retardation are the third and fourth common disabilities respectively.

He also cited a study by the World Health Organization in 2004 which revealed that 60 percent of people attending primary care clinics daily in the Philippines have one or more mental neurological or substance use (MNS) disorders.

Meanwhile, a 2006 study by the Department of Health (DOH) showed 32 percent of 327 government employee respondents have experienced mental health problems in their lifetime.

Pimentel expressed hope his proposed amendment would be adopted into law as soon as possible and have it implemented Jan. 1, 2020.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Feb 13, 2019
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