Corporatization of public hospitals means higher fees, warns lawmaker

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MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/18 May) – Converting state-run hospitals into government corporations would likely result in higher hospital fees and reduced services for poor patients, a lawmaker today warned.

In a statement, Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño said House Bill 6069 aims to convert 26 government-run hospitals into independent money-making corporations, adding “it will justify more cuts in government subsidies and the reduction of services to indigent patients.”

Seven of these 26 public hospitals are in Mindanao. These are the Northern Mindanao Medical Center, Southern Philippines Medical Center, Zamboanga City Medical Center, Cotobato Regional and Medical Center, Caraga Regional Hospital, Davao Regional Hospital, and Mayor Hilarion A. Ramiro Sr. Regional Center and Training Hospital.

Casiño claimed the committee on health hastily approved HB 6069 in violation of the rules of the House of Representatives.

He alleged that “stakeholders and affected sectors were not given sufficient notice, time and opportunity to air their concerns.”

 

Saying the committee did not even include the measure as an agenda in the notice of meeting, Casiño said he would move to recommit the measure to the committee next week for further deliberation.

 

He said “the experience in the four existing GOCC (government-owned and controlled corporation) hospitals – The Philippine Heart Center, Kidney Center, Lung Center and Children’s Medical Center – showed that the need to earn revenues resulted in the “displacement of indigent patients in favor of richer, paying patients.”

 

Quoting the directors of the four GOCC hospitals, Casiño said “they are all complaining that they have to allot more beds and facilities to rich patients because government is not giving them enough subsidies for the poor.”

 

The lawmaker warned the same thing will happen to the 26 public hospitals to be corporatized under HB 6069.

 

“Essentially this bill is a disguised privatization scheme to further let go of the government’s responsibility for health care. It is meant to facilitate private-public partnerships and is thus one step closer to the full privatization of our hospitals,” he said. (MindaNews)

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