Vouchers to replace legislators’ letters at DOH

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Health Secretary Enrique Ona: Voucher system AFP File Photo

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Health (DOH) is planning to set up a “voucher system” for distributing to indigent patients the P3.69-billion “share” that it expects to get from the “abolished” Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or congressional pork barrel, said Health Secretary Enrique Ona.

Ona said indigent patients would no longer be required to secure “guarantee letters” from lawmakers to avail themselves of financial assistance from the DOH for the purchase of medicine or to pay for medical treatment.

He said the DOH was formulating the guidelines on how the funds would be distributed through DOH hospitals.

“Most likely, we will distribute the amount per region or per district. We will give the discretionary amount to our directors. (Indigents) will no longer need to go through Congressman So-and-so or Senator So-and-so,” Ona said in an interview.

“It will become more equitable in a sense that you won’t need to know someone from government or have access to congressmen or senators to get assistance. This will also be fully audited,” he said.

Ona said indigent patients would not be required to reveal their political affiliations before they could receive assistance.

“The [party] affiliation of the congressman of a particular legislative district will not matter,” said Ona.

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