DBM clarifies: No budget cuts for DOH specialty hospitals
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has clarified that specialty hospitals under the Department of Health (DOH) did not suffer budget cuts, as allocations under the 2023 National Expenditures Program (NEP) were either similar or higher if compared to the proposed 2022 budget.
In a statement on Tuesday, DBM stressed that there was no difference in the allocations for DOH-attached corporations like the Philippine Heart Center (PHC) and the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI), as they submitted similar figures for the 2023 NEP and 2022 NEP.
The seeming decrease in funds for these hospitals, DBM explained, stems from comparing the 2023 NEP to the 2022 General Appropriations Act (GAA) — or the budget approved by Congress and signed into law by former president Rodrigo Duterte, which contained augmentations to several items.
The NEP is the proposed budget submitted by Malacañang to Congress, while the GAA is the Congress-approved budget which is eventually forwarded to the President, who signs it into law.
“First, allow us to emphasize that the government gives high regard to these specialty hospitals, which for many decades have been proven beneficial to many Filipinos, particularly the general public. Whatever money is derived by these hospitals from their paying patients are plowed back to defray the expenses on their charity wards and services,” DBM said.
“It is likewise important to note that the proposed funds for the four specialty hospitals, as provided both in the [NEP] for 2022 and 2023, were actually unchanged, if not, increased,” it added.
For example, DBM allocated P1.3 billion for NKTI in the 2023 NEP, similar to the 2022 NEP. However, this appeared to be lower than the P1.63 billion budget in the 2022 GAA because Congress had already adjusted this.
DBM said Congress inserted P362 million into NKTI’s original budget in 2022 to cover additional assistance for indigent patients, procurement of electrically-operated beds, and expanding the outpatient department building.
PHC also shared the same fate — it got P1.8 billion in the 2022 NEP and 2023 NEP. But if it is compared to the 2022 GAA, PHC had P1.89 billion — due to Congressional insertions and realignments.
In the case of the Lung Center of the Philippines (LCP), DBM said it got P630 million in the 2023 NEP compared to this year’s approved budget of P684 million.
But DBM argued that it only appropriated P404 million in the 2022 proposed budget, and Congress increased it to P684 million.
“The seeming decrease in the budget for Lung Center of the Philippines comes from comparing the actual 2022 General Appropriations Act (GAA) to the 2023 NEP. In 2022 GAA, the allocated budget was further increased to P683.9 million due to upward adjustments made by Congress,” DBM noted.
The Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC) budget under the 2023 NEP is at P1.2 billion — a P100 million increase compared to the 2022 NEP’s P1.1 billion.
“The P344 million budget decrease raised by Rep. [Ralph] Recto likewise pertains to the Congress-introduced upward adjustments included in the 2022 GAA, which allotted P1.5 billion for PCMC,” DBM said.
DBM said that they would defer to the judgment of lawmakers as to whether there is a need to realign some items in the budget to increase the allocations for these hospitals.
“Further, allow us to state that the DBM has allotted P23 Billion for the Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP), which will fund the purchase of medical equipment as well as the construction, rehabilitation and upgrading of barangay health stations, rural health units, polyclinics, LGU hospitals, DOH hospital, and other various health facilities nationwide,” DBM assured the public.
“The DBM yields to the collective wisdom of the honorable members of Congress on whether to increase or decrease the proposed funds of government agencies during the series of budget deliberations and hearings,” it added.
During the deliberation of DOH’s budget before the House of Representatives committee on appropriations, officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire gave a presentation showing that the department got P296.3 billion in the 2023 NEP — an increase from the P268.4 billion in the 2022 GAA.
However, funds allocated to PHC, LCP, PCMC, and the National Nutrition Council in the 2023 NEP were lower than the 2022 GAA — prompting concerns from lawmakers.
READ: DOH proposed 2023 budget increases, but funds for PHC, NKTI, other items slashed
In contrast, the budget for the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), the state-owned health insurer, increased from just P79.99 billion in the 2022 GAA to P100.23 billion in 2023 NEP.
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