Bataan lawmaker pushes for separate PGH budget
A bill filed in the House of Representatives aims to make the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) financially independent of the University of the Philippines (UP) System by letting it recommend its own allocation in the yearly national budget on top of a P3-billion “centennial fund.” Under Bataan Rep. Albert Garcia’s House Bill No. 5044, which was referred over the weekend to the committee on health, PGH would be declared the “National University Hospital” to ensure enough funding and make health care more “accessible and affordable to the people, especially to paupers and sickly patients.”
PGH gets its budget from the UP System’s hospital services program allocation, in addition to its income from pay patient departments, laboratory fees, pharmacy sales and donations.
But to Garcia, “such funds are insufficient to finance all its essential services.”
“[PGH] is considered the biggest hospital with a 1,500-bed capacity. This is a mixed-use hospital, with 1,000 beds for indigent patients and 500 beds for private patients… [It] offers some of the lowest rates for patients and is generally known as the hospital for indigent patients. On an average year, about 600,000 patients pass through its … halls, 98 percent of [whom]are indigents,” he added.
Under HB 5044, PGH shall “provide accessible, affordable and quality health care to poor and underprivileged patients” while also serving as the laboratory hospital for UP health science students, and a research university hospital in medicine and other health-care expertise and specialization.
“Taking into account the national goals and priorities, it shall exclusively determine its administration and/or management of the hospital, research plans, policies, programs and standards and, on the basis of such determination, the national university hospital shall recommend the annual budget to the President of the Republic of the Philippines and Congress,” Garcia said in his bill.
Apart from PGH’s regular budget in the General Appropriations Act (GAA), “a centennial fund shall be appropriated in the amount of P3 billion which shall, likewise, be included in the annual GAA.”
In the 2019 GAA, the hospital was given P3.23 billion and then P4.020 billion the following year. But because of the pandemic, the Department of Budget and Management issued a special allotment release order in May 2020 to augment the operational budget of PGH which was designated as a COVID-19 referral facility.
In 2021, it received P6.9 billion and then P6.3 billion this year. For next year, the proposed budget for PGH is P5.9 billion which, according to PGH Director Dr. Gerardo Legaspi, would be more than enough to fund its priority programs.
The All UP Workers Union-Manila/PGH, however, called the proposed 2023 allocation “anti-health worker” and pushed for it to be doubled to P10 billion.