MANILA, Philippines – The Senate on Monday approved the bill which seeks to institutionalize Malasakit Centers in the Department of Health (DOH) -run hospitals across the country.
The bill was approved with 18 affirmative votes and zero negative votes
Under Senate Bill No. 1076 or the Malasakit Center Act of 2019, a one-stop shop center for medical and financial assistance provided by the DOH, Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office will be established in all 73 DOH-run hospitals in the country.
Citing 2017 data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, Sen. Christopher Lawrence Go, author and sponsor of the bill, said that out-of-pocket payment accounted for 55 percent of health expenditures despite benefits provided by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).
Go said there are currently 50 Malasakit Centers nationwide, adding that the establishment of the one-stop shops would aid the long queues that those seeking assistance have to go through in different government agencies.
“To clarify, we are not providing additional funds for assistance, we are merely establishing a one-stop shop for medical and financial assistance, "Go said.
Hospitals run by local government units (LGUs) and other public hospitals can also establish a Malasakit Center granted that their funds can cover the operation and maintenance of the centers.
Those who are admitted to LGU and other public hospitals but are eligible for medical and financial assistance may also seek assistance from the Malasakit Center s, Go added.
The approval of the bill on third reading came after the adoption of the amendments proposed by Senator Risa Hontiveros and Senator Franklin Drilon.
Hontiveros said that Malasakit Centers should also provide "critical information on healthy behaviors and conduct health promotion activities in the hospital. "
Drilon, meanwhile, said the bill should not limit" access to or availability of medical and financial assistance only to indigent and financially incapacitated patients referred through Malasakit Centers. "
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