New commission pushed to augment PhilHealth efforts

THE DEPARTMENT of Health (DOH) said the Duterte administration is pushing for the establishment of a one-stop-shop in the form of a special commission to complement the services of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

 DOH Sec. Paulyn Jean Ubial, in an interview in Davao City, said the proposal has already passed through the House of Representatives and is awaiting a counterpart bill in the Senate.

 House Bill 5560 is the Universal Health Care bill, which provides for a health care program that cushions the needs of Filipino patients.  At the Senate, Senator Jayvee Ejercito has authored a counterpart measure.

 As a rule, the program would allow PhilHealth to look for additional funds from other agencies to augment the medical procedures or services that are billed beyond what is covered by the government insurance program.

 “Now the proposal is to have a law that revises the PhilHealth law,” Ubial said.  “It transforms PhilHealth into the Philippine Health Security Commission.”

 According to the health secretary, “health security” refers to the various services that could be poured to help out Filipinos, through agencies such as the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor), Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), and the DOH, through various funds.

 The idea is for PhilHealth to manage the funds. This way, the patient would be provided a centralized assistance.

 Last year, the DOH’s involvement with the free medicines program was through a memorandum of agreement with public hospitals to delay payments for services.

 The government allocated P1 billion to the DSWD for the Lingap Para sa Mahirap funds. Families then lined up at the DSWD to seek financial assistance for their patients.

 “We think there’s a duplication and spreading of resources,” Ubial said.

 The proposal seeks to reduce the burden of the patient or his relatives from looking for sources of funds.

 The measure was authored by House of Representatives health chair Angelina Tan along with at least 98 congressmen who co-authored the bill.  The bill has reached third reading, Ubial said.

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