SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao (MindaNews / 17 December) — Poor Filipinos need not worry over hospitalization next year because a budget has been allocated for their hospital needs, Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rossel-Ubial said.
“There’s no need to hold any card of Philhealth. Just prove you are a Filipino, you are entitled to be covered by the health benefits, the Philhealth will take care of the hospital billings and other concerns,” Ubial gave this assurance during her visit to the Integrated Provincial Hospital Office (IPHO) in Maguindanao.
Ubial said the DOH can now cover the hospitalization expenses of the poor, jobless and elderly seeking assistance after the Department of Budget and Management last month granted their request to pay 32 billion arrears from the 42 billion pesos deficit from Philhealth.
The arrears accumulated after contributions supposed to be collected from government employees’ contributions were not paid to Philhealth in the past five years, she said.
“This is the first time in history. President Duterte has exerted all efforts and expect changes to come up in the next days where patients or family members will leave hospitals with no balance billings,” she added.
Ubial said she was glad some senators gave additional one billion to the two billion pesos request of subsidy for medicines given to poor patients.
Duterte, she said, added another five billion pesos collected from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) to cover additional maintenance drugs for poor patients. This amount will be handled in coordination with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), under the medical access program.
Ubial noted that in the past, people depended on cheap medicines sold in Botika sa Barangay, but this time, she said, there will be no more purchasing of medicines in government pharmacies but every poor family can get it free from the government health program.
“Just take care of the poor, I’ll take care where to find the money,” Ubial quoted the President as telling her.
Ubial came here to grace the inauguration of the first ever CT scan machine of IPHO-Maguindanao.
“The CT Scanner is needed most here. This is in line with the program of the present DOH giving empowerment to local hospitals, especially in the provincial level or community level to decongest the big government hospitals and making it accessible and less expensive to the patients,” IPHO-Maguindanao chief Dr. Tahir Sulaik said.
Ubial also joined the Maguindanao health workers in giving away wheel chairs and Christmas package to persons with disabilities, and attended a dialogue with health workers and a Health Congress in Cotabato City capped by a year-end thanksgiving party.
Asked about the deferment of the Millennium Challenge Corporation to re-select the Philippines as recipient of a multi-million dollar development grant due to concerns on “rule of law and civil liberaties,” Ubial said the DOH is not worred because most of the aid agencies’ intervention in DOH are “technical assistance unlike before when they were actual medicines and family planning commodities.” (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera / MindaNews)