Limited financial resources should not be a hurdle to getting life-saving medical treatment, “medical treatment that is available… but inaccessible. Medical treatment that is available, but unaffordable. Medical treatment that is available, but beyond the reach of the ordinary Filipino family.”
This according to Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, who on Thursday reiterated the commitment of the Duterte Administration to fully and properly implement the newly-signed Universal Health Care (UHC) Act.
Speaking to members of the Philippine Rheumatology Association (PRA) during its 25th Annual Meeting at the SMX Convention Center in Davao City, the Palace official said that “the concern of the President for the welfare of our countrymen has been matched by his resolve to address the issues they care about the most.”
“Build, Build, Build may be the catchphrase of the government’s infrastructure program, but it could very well capture what this Administration has sought to accomplish.”
According to Nograles, the President’s objective is “to build a society where everyone has opportunities––a society where farmers are given free irrigation and a chance to become more productive; a society where our youth can avail of free college education so they have a chance to get better jobs; a society where everyone can be assured of accessible medical treatment so that every Filipino can lead a long and healthy life.”
The former legislator from Davao, who supported the passage of the law when he was the representative of the First District of Davao, said that that the government recognized that work had to be done to ensure that the objectives of the law would be met.
“Like any law, the positive impact of the UHC Act is contingent on the success of its implementation,” emphasized Nograles.
Signed by the President last month, the landmark law, said Nograles, “will ensure that all Filipinos are guaranteed equitable access to quality and affordable health care.”
Under this law, every Filipino citizen will be automatically included into the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP), and every Filipino man, woman, and child will be granted immediate eligibility and access to preventive, promotive, curative, rehabilitative, and palliative care for medical, dental, mental, and emergency health services.
The law is necessary, stressed Nograles, because unaffordable healthcare “has been the reality faced for generations of underprivileged families that have had to wrestle with health issues that require expensive treatments that cost more than some of them could earn in 10 or even 20 years.”
The cabinet official explained that the government would work to ensure proper implementation of the four major components of the law: financing, service delivery, regulation, and governance.
Nograles called on the members of the PRA and all medical professionals to work with the Department of Health and PhilHealth to “hammer out the details and the fine print involved in the Universal Health Care Law.”
“Lahat makikinabang, walang malulugi sa batas na ito––kung lahat tayo magtutulungan. The Department of Health (DOH) and Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) have been tasked to finish the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Universal Health Care Law, but they cannot do it alone. They will need input from organizations like the PRA to come up with an IRR that addresses the needs of our people and recognizes the concerns of the sectors involved, including yourselves,” added Nograles.
Under the law, the DOH and PhilHealth has been given 180 days to finish the IRR of the UHC Act. The law, previously certified as urgent by the President, also reconstitutes PhilHealth into the Philippine Health Security Corporation, which will be the national purchaser of health services.
Funds for the UHC Law will come from premium contributions of members of PhilHealth, annual appropriations from the DOH included in the General Appropriations Act, government subsidies, sin tax collections, 50% of the National Government Share in the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, 40% of the Charity Fund of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, and net Documentary Stamp Tax payments. A total of 217 billion pesos has been allotted for the groundbreaking program in the 2019 National Budget.