Universal health care delay tagged reason for urgency of war on graft
MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Health (DOH) admission that the universal healthcare (UHC) law may not be implemented in 2020 has made removing corruption in government more pressing, according to former Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
Roque, who was one of the lawmakers who defended and sponsored UHC in the 17th Congress, said on Thursday (Aug. 29) that it is ‘unfortunate and unacceptable’ that UHC beneficiaries would suffer because of DOH’s unpreparedness.
“It is very unfortunate – and quite frankly, unacceptable — that the nationwide rollout of the Universal Health Care law may not happen next year due to budgetary constraints and the lack of readiness of the Department of Health,” he said in a statement.
“The inability to implement the UHC nationwide merely underscores the fact that we need to address issues of corruption decisively so that scarce resources will go to the people and not to the pigs in PhilHealth,” he added.
During the budget hearing of DOH at the House of Representatives on Wednesday, Health Secretary Francisco Duque admitted that the department may not be able to implement the UHC.
“The strategic readiness of the DOH in the implementation of the Universal Health Care year one is 2020, and it is a progressive realization [that] it cannot be a national roll-out, your honors,” Duque said.
“I guess the keywords are progressive realization given that we cannot do a national roll-out because of budgetary constraints and also because of the readiness,” he added.
For 2020, only 33 areas will be under the pilot coverage of the UHC, according to Health Undersecretary Gerardo Bayugo.
Roque previously called for the suspension of the UHC implementation, after an investigative report from the Philippine Daily Inquirer revealed that a health facility was still getting compensation from Philhealth for supposed dialysis procedures even if patients were already dead.
However, this was countered by former senator JV Ejercito, who said that the corruption issue is not enough to deprive Filipinos of good healthcare programs.
According to one of Wellmed Dialysis and Laboratory Center’s ex-officials who was directly involved in the processing of claim forms, the ‘ghost dialysis’ scheme has been ongoing for some years now./TSB
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