Tag Archives: local government units

Healthcare in the Philippines

“We are currently institutionalizing the unified implementation of the “No Balance Billing Policy” through which the government and our private healthcare providers can work out a system that will provide an order of charging of medical expenses.”

A year ago, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed into law the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law. No hospital shall “request, solicit, demand or accept any deposit” for any medical treatment starting then, and any violator would be punished by either imprisonment, fine, or both. The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) were also called upon for the implementation of this law: the first to reimburse the hospital or clinic for the medical costs and transportation services given to poor and indigent patients, while the second to provide medical assistance for the basic emergency care needs of poor and marginalized groups.

Much needs to be done to improve our healthcare system, which remains highly fragmented, resulting in disparity in health outcomes between the rich and the poor in the urban areas and rural. While investments in health have increased over the years, several policy and operational bottlenecks have constrained universal health care for this country.”

But the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines, Inc. (PHAPi) was against it. As soon as the implementing rules and regulations of the law were released, they filed a petition to the Supreme Court to nullify the Act Strengthening the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law by Increasing the Penalties for the Refusal of Hospitals and Medical Clinics to Administer Appropriate Initial Treatment and Support in Emergency or Serious Cases. The penalties1  for health facilities that refuse to take in emergency patients who cannot pay in advance is “unconstitutional,” “unreasonable,” and “amounts to denial of due process.” Directing the PhilHealth and the PCSO to reimburse basic emergency care costs to “poor and indigent patients” is violative of the equal protection clause, too, amounting to involuntary servitude.

“We shall pool all our resources for health services under the [PhilHealth]; institutionalize primary care as a prerequisite to access higher level of healthcare; and supplement human resource gaps of the LGUs through a National Health Workforce Support System.”

So, as of now, the PhilHealth covers Filipinos regardless of their social status. An amount—termed as the “case rate amount”—would be deducted from the member’s total bill, which would include the professional fees of attending physicians, prior to discharge2. Filipinos can also turn to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to get free prescription medicine through its Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS) program3.

“These will ensure that every Filipino family gets the appropriate, affordable, and quality health services in appropriate facilities and will be protected from financial burden due to sickness.”

Indigents, government employees, services workers, and those “determined by DSWD social workers” can benefit from the program through referral letters to the department’s partner-drugstores and hospital pharmacies. They must just submit their medical certificate, doctor’s prescription, indigent card, and valid ID to the DSWD Crisis Intervention Unit (CIU) located at the Central Office, field offices, and satellite offices in the provinces.

“To this end, I urge the speedy passage of the Universal Health Care Bill authored by Former Representative Harry Roque. Strong political determination, not political ambition, is the guiding light.”

The Universal Health Care bill will automatically include Filipinos into the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP). The House of Representatives has already passed its third and final reading on this in September 2017, while the Senate’s counterpart measure is still pending at its committee on health. It will be most beneficial to PWDs and tobacco victims, Emer Rojas, president of the New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP) was quoted as saying in a report, since it will ensure that they are especially provided for with their respective healthcare needs.

One of the most important thrusts of this administration’s medium-term development plan is to cover all Filipinos against financial health risks. That is why I have directed concerned agencies to streamline the various sources of financial assistance for people with health-related needs.” ~ Pres. Rodrigo Roa Duterte 

1The Republic Act No. 10932 further notes imprisonment from four to six years, or a fine from P500,000 to P1,000,000, to directors or officers of hospitals or clinics, or both. The facility’s license to operate will also be revoked after three repeated violations, and a presumption of liability shall arise against the hospital and its employees. 

2 Filipinos must just go to any PhilHealth office to register, fill out two copies of the PhilHealth Member Registration Form (PMRF), submit the PMRF to the human resources department, then await the member data record and PhilHealth ID card from employer. The contributions are shared by the employee and the employer, and could be paid monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually.

Filipino senior citizens can apply as well as those who are unemployed or self-employed. Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs)—documented or undocumented—can register, too. They only have to pay ₱2,400.00 annually or in two increments (₱1,200 every six months). Members could then have 45 days hospitalization allowance after paying at least 3 months’ worth of premiums within the immediate 6 months of confinement. Nine months’ worth of contributions in the last 12 months is needed, on the other hand, for pregnancies, the new born care package, dialysis, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and selected surgical procedures. The attending physician(s) and the health care institutions (HCI) must also be PhilHealth-accredited.

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Rappler

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Mandaluyong

Likened to a tiger by the Department of Trade and Industry and the Asian Institute of Management Policy Center in 2002, Mandaluyong has been intense as well in caring for the persons with disabilities (PWDs) in the city.

It has established an office—the Disabled Persons Affairs (DPAD) —in 1998. It has issued identification cards for free in 2009. It has led the latter to possible research-based programs through its accurate registry.

Within the department is a literacy program for PWDs, children or youth. Local legislations are thought of for the sector as well as workshops. A task force is also assigned to monitor the implementation of the Accessibility Law and the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons, and community-based programs are established to supports the different organizations of PWDs and caregivers.

Mandaluyong has sports and socio-cultural programs in place. It has the Mandaluyong Manpower and Development Center (MMDC), a small government institution that has become a “nationally competitive training center” to help PWDs realize their optimum potential. It has two training centers—in Barangay Hulo and in Welfareville Compound in Addition Hills—with 23 training facilitators and 26 support staff teaching casket making and carpentry.

To date, PWDs in the city have benefited from the DPAD programs. A summary of its projects and impact to the sector from 1997-2003 were recorded and four social welfare organizations have been opened even to those who are not residents of Mandaluyong. Among them are the Integrated Day Care Center, which is both for autistic and “normal” children ages 0-3 years old; the Sanctuary Center, which serves as a temporary shelter for recovered psychotics; the National Center for Mental Health and Social Service, which provides medical assistance to mentally ill patients; and the Jose Fabella Center, which serves male psychotics age 19-25 years old only.

Project TEACH (Therapy, Education and Assimilation of Children with Handicap) has been a leading initiative for children with disabilities (CWDs) here since September 2007. Its therapy center has been providing evaluation, diagnostic and regular therapy services. It would teach basic sign language to community workers and policemen so that they can communicate effectively with the deaf among them. Even the city’s private sector would help: it would cooperate with the city government to give free therapy to the CWDs.

Under the project, there would be the Mandaluyong CARES (Center for Alternative Rehabilitation and Education Services) and the Kitchen Specials (KS). They would be offering pre-vocational skills training programs to CWDs and supply public school canteens with “healthy, delicious, and affordable snacks” prepared by PWDs themselves, respectively.

But what excites me more is Mandaluyong’s initiative to share with other local government units (LGUs) the projects that have worked for the PWDs in it! Just recently, Wennah Marquez, officer-in-charge of Mandaluyong’s DPAD, trained the staff of other LGUs responsible for the disability issues in their own cities how to custom-fit wheelchairs for CWDs based on their physical constitution and nature and level of disability. Mandaluyong is not just giving them what it think they need, but is also making sure that the latter would be able to function as equals among ‘normals’!

“Expert studies show that given the same opportunities as others, children with disabilities can equally contribute to the social, cultural and economic vitality of their communities.” ~UNICEF Philippines

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Juan Miguel Ala-Tolentino