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Go underscores necessity of implementing health care law.

By Mario Casayuran

Senator Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go on Friday urged the executive department to ensure the timely implementation of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Law in the wake of the recommendation of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to delay its implementation.

With the current coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the law is needed by Filipinos now, more than ever, said Go, chairman of the Senate health and demography committee.

"Hinihimok po natin ang gobyerno na ituloy ang implementasyon ng UHC Law na kailangan ng mga Pilipino lalo na ngayon na may mga banta ng COVID-19 at iba pang mga sakit (We are urging the government to push through with the implementation of the UHC Law because Filipinos need it, especially now that there are threats of COVID-19 and other diseases)," he said, stressing that the measure was certified urgent then by President Duterte.

"May dahilan po kung bakit 'yan na-certify na urgent ng Pangulo noong ito ay panukala pa lamang. Malaki po ang pangangailangang medikal ng ating mga kababayan kaya mahalagang ma-implementa ito (There are reasons the President certified it as an urgent measure. This has to be implemented because of the medical needs of our countrymen)," Go pointed out.

The senator from Davao said he is also mindful that the start of the rainy season might result in significant spikes in the number of infectious disease cases, such as dengue.

"Maraming mga sakit ang tumatama sa ating mga kababayan. Hindi lang naman COVID-19 ang saklaw ng PhilHealth. Sa pagdating ng tag-ulan, aasahan natin ang iba pang sakit, katulad ng dengue. Dagdag pa dyan ang iba't ibang kondisyong medikal ng mga kababayan natin, katulad ng cancer, kidney failure, hypertension na kailangan din ng tulong mula sa PhilHealth (Several diseases hit our countrymen. PhilHealth covered not only COVID-19. Come the rainy season, we also expect other illnesses, such as dengue. Added to these are other medical conditions of our countrymen, such as cancer, kidney failure and hypertension that also need the help from PhilHealth)," Go said.

In a June 18 virtual press briefing, Presidential spokesman Secretary Harry Roque Jr. said that suspending the implementation of the UHC is against the law.

"Well, ito po'y labag sa literal na probisyon ng batas at dun po sa intensyon ng mga nagsulong ng batas na ito (Well, this is literally a violation of a provision of the law and the intention of those who pursued this law)," he said.

Roque also concurred with Go's earlier statements that the law provides for the use of state funds, if needed, to ensure available health services to Filipinos in the event that PhilHealth premiums would not be able to cover all expenses.

"Tama po si Senator Bong Go. Kung kinakailangan, gagamitin natin ang bilyon-bilyon na galing po sa kaban ng bayan dahil 'yan naman po ay pangako ng Presidente, at isang obligasyon ng estado na ibigay ang mabuting kalusugan sa lahat ng mga mamamayan (Senator Bong Go is right. If it is necessary, we will utilize the billions of public funds as promised by the President as it is the obligation of the State to ensure good health for the citizenry)," Roque stressed.

Go also renewed his appeal to investigate alleged corruption in PhilHealth.

"Managot ang dapat managot kahit na magkasama tayo sa gobyerno at magkaibigan tayo. Kung ano lang po ang tama. 'Yan po ang pinagbibilin parati ng Pangulo (The guilty must be made accountable even if we are together in government and we are friends. We have to do what is right. That is the instruction of the President)," Go said.

He also gave an assurances that Malasakit Centers, one-stop shops established in government hospitals all over the country where patients could seek medical assistance from various government agencies, remain prepared to assist Filipinos in need. Go principally authored Republic Act 11463, the law that institutionalized this initiative.

Go said enough funds have been allotted or released for the services offered by Malasakit Centers.

"Sa ngayon, budgeted naman po 'yung operations ng pagpapagamot for this year (For now, medical operations are budgeted for this year)," he said, adding that other agencies have existing medical assistance programs that are available in the Malasakit Centers.

"Marami naman pong tumutulong sa Malasakit Center, tulad ng PhilHealth, DOH (Department of Health), PCSO (Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office) at DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development). Tuloy-tuloy po ang tulong ng mga Malasakit Center all over the country (The Malasakit Center is being assisted by several agencies, such as PhilHealth, DOH, PCSO, and DSWD. The Malasakit Center will continue to provide help to our fellowmen around the country)," he said.

The senator also emphasized the need to ensure the sustenance of the UHC Law through possible legislative enhancements without compromising the government's vision of providing universal health care to all Filipinos.

Go, likewise, asked the state health insurance provider to improve its information dissemination campaign to better inform Filipinos on where their contributions are going.


Senator Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go (FACEBOOK / MANILA BULLETIN)
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Title Annotation:National; Christopher Lawrence Go, Universal Health Care Law
Author:Casayuran, Mario
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Jun 19, 2020
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