Bill seeking VAT-free mental illness meds filed in Senate

Senate Bill No. 2193 seeks to include drugs for mental illnesses in the list of value-added tax-exempted medicines. HER CAMPUS

MANILA – A senator has proposed for the expansion of the list of value-added tax (VAT)-exempted medicines by including those prescribed for persons with mental health conditions.

Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III filed Senate Bill No. 2193, which seeks to further amend a provision in the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997, particularly Section 109.

While the Mental Health Act was signed last year, medicines for mental health illnesses were not included in the list of VAT-exempted drugs just like those for diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol.

“To sustain the treatment or prevention of mental health conditions, it is imperative that drugs and medicines for mental illnesses are made affordable,” Pimentel said in a statement.

He added: “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.”

Pimentel further said records from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that mental illness and mental retardation are the third and fourth common disabilities in the country, respectively.

“Mental health and well-being is a concern of all and it is for this reason that the passage of the bill is earnestly sought,” said Pimentel, who hopes that his proposed amendment adopted into law the soonest time to make it effective by January 1, 2020./PN


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