Budget cuts will snag universal health care law implementation – Duque
The implementation of the expected universal health care law may be hampered if the cuts would remain in the budget of the Department of Health for new facilities and equipment for 2019, Secretary Francisco Duque III warned on Tuesday.
Duque appealed to Senators to provide at least P16.8 billion for the Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) of the DOH for 2019 after the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) slashed the program’s P30 billion budget to just P50 million.
Sen. JV Ejercito, the main proponent of the universal health care bill which is pending in the bicameral conference committee, acknowledged that there would be “some setback” if the HFEP budget were to be slashed.
Ejercito hopes that the universal health care bill will be signed into law and implemented by next year.
The measure seeks to provide equal access to quality and affordable health services for all Filipinos.
Senators will study and discuss how much could be restored in the DOH’s HFEP budget, said Ejercito, who vowed to fight for additional funds.
“It would be a disservice if the budget cut would push through as we would be unable to use the health facilities, especially those that are 80 to 90 percent completed, because there would be no equipment in them,” he said.
“It would be inconsistent that we would pass the universal health care bill, but we would not improve the health facilities,” he added.
Duque said he would be glad to get P16.8 billion for the HFEP so that the department could complete top priority projects.
These include the provision of equipment for some 900 hospitals, the completion of nearly-finished health facilities, and the improvement of barangay health centers.
Without enough funding, the ability of the DOH to provide hospital care services would be adversely affected, he said.
“This will really impact the ability of the DOH to implement the universal health care law,” he said. “If we don’t get this budget, this will really undermine our ability to provide such services.”
The DBM has slashed the HFEP budget because of the DOH was unable to use the funds allocated for these in the previous years.
Duque said his department was now working to address this by improving its planning of its projects.
He also said the DOH has submitted a “catch up plan” to the DBM, detailing how it intends to complete previous HFEP projects.
This may convince the DBM to restore funding for the program, though he was still waiting for feedback, he added. /atm