President Rodrigo Duterte certified as urgent the Universal Health Care Bill providing Filipinos the inclusion of preventive, promotive and rehabilitative health services for a better health system, Malacañang said Tuesday.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque confirmed that the President issued the certification of House Bill 5785, following a 10-hour long 27th Cabinet meeting held Monday night.
“I am pleased to announce that our Universal Health Care Bill which we sponsored, defended, and passed in the House of Representatives was certified as urgent in tonight’s Cabinet meeting,” he said in a Twitter post.
The certification means the Senate can swiftly act on the pending UHC Bill which, according to Roque, is being heard by the Senate Committee on Health headed by Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito.
“Under this proposed law, we seek to provide for the right to health by providing primary care to all Filipinos. This is the free health services and medicines to the country,” said Roque in a press briefing in Indang, Cavite Tuesday.
Roque also recognized the role of barangay health care workers as gatekeepers of the bill.
“They are the first contact of the patients together with community nurses and midwives. In barangay health centers, they will be the ones to decide whether the patients be given medicines, need to go to a specialist, or require serious medical attention in a hospital,” said Roque.
Roque also said the UHC Bill will reorganize the prevailing Philippine Health Insurance Inc. into the Philippine Health Security Corp., which will then be the national purchaser of health services.
Unlike the current system of PhilHealth, Roque said the new process for UHC will be available to contributing and non-contributing members.
“There are two classifications: the contributing and non-contributing. The government will pay on the premiums of non-contributing,” said Roque, adding that the UHC will not rely on premiums and insurances alone.
“The government has too many investment and capital expenditures. We are aiming to continuously construct one barangay health centers per barangay, create bigger regional health units with 13 personnel, and provide district hospitals,” he said, adding PhilHealth would buy the medicines and would give the tariff on all professional services.
Some points of the bill include giving the full spectrum of health services to inpatient, outpatient, and emergency care services surrounding preventive, promotive, curative, rehabilitative, and palliative medical, dental, and mental health services, institutionalizing the Health Technology Assessment and the creation of the Health Technology Assessment Council, and empowering local government units to be responsible in delivering health services to their respective communities.
Roque made the statement as Senator Ejercito said the bill will be passed in the Senate when session resumes this month.
“I applaud President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to certify the bill as urgent. Hoping to work on the passage of this landmark legislation once we resume session,” he said in a statement.
He noted that the increasing prices of basic goods make the passage of the Universal Health Care bill even more critical.
With prices of fuel, transportation, and basic goods skyrocketing, he said the passage of the bill will mean a lot to Filipino families in terms of improving their quality of life.
“The bill on universal health care is intended to uplift the health condition of every Filipino by providing efficient, quality, and accessible health services to Filipinos,” he said.
The senator emphasized that universal health care is integral to the government’s anti-poverty drive.
He said ensuring good health for Filipinos is crucial to economic development because ensuring the well-being of all Filipinos means that they can be more productive, which further means they can better overcome poverty.
The bill, Ejercito added, provides for the automatic inclusion of every Filipino into the National Health Insurance Program or PhilHealth.
While recognizing that health care is a major component of the people’s expenditure, he noted that 54.2 percent of health expenditures in 2016 were shouldered by Filipinos while the government shares only comprise 34.2 percent of the total health expenditures.
He said the new measure if signed into law, will benefit poor Filipinos and those who live in far-flung areas currently not reached by government’s health services.
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