By Charissa Luci-Atienza
A leader of the House of Representatives is urging the Department of Health (DOH) to include the proponents of the Universal Health Care Act in the crafting of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the seven month-old law.
Samar Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento, one of the principal authors of the law, cited as crucial the participation of the members of Congress in the crafting of the IRR of the Republic Act No. 11223, which was signed into law by President Duterte on February 20, 2019.
“This law is the result of the joint and diligent efforts of the lawmakers from both the House of Representatives and the Senate, who have done their respective studies, consultations, and research in the course of crafting their versions of the bills that eventually became legislation,” he said.
“Such lawmakers may have significant information and inputs that may make the implementation of the law more efficient and effective. They may have important contributions that will help in keeping the integrity of the policies and objectives of the law throughout its implementation,” he pointed out.
Among the proponents of the universal healthcare in the Lower Chamber were Quezon Rep. Angelina Tan, chairman of the House Committee on Health; Deputy Speakers Raneo Abu, Vilma Santos-Recto, Baby Arenas, and Evelina Esudero; Kabayan partylist Rep. Ron Salo, Zambales Rep. Cheryl Deloso-MOntalla, Nueva Ecija Rep. Estrellita Suansing, Occidental Mindoro Rep. Josephine Sato, and former Kabayan partylist Rep. Harry Roque.
Their Senate counterparts were Senators Ralph Recto, Nancy Binay, Joel Villanueva, Juan Edgardo Angara, Leila de Lima, Cynthia Villar, Risa Hontiversos, Sherwin Gatchalian, Emmanuel Pacquiao, Franklin Drilon, Juan Miguel Zubiri; Senate President Vicente Sotto III, and former Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito.
Sarmiento filed House Resolution 405 urging the DOH to include the authors of the House Bill 5784 and Senate Bill 1896 in the crafting of the IRR of the UHC Law.
“Inviting said lawmakers in the crafting of the implementing rules and regulations will allow said persons to provide their respective inputs and recommendation for the better implementation pf the law and will eventually redound to the benefit of the people,” he said.
He noted that Section 43 of the law mandates the DOH and Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth), in consultation and coordination with appropriate national government agencies, civil society organizations, non-government organizations private sector representatives and other stakeholders, to promulgate the necessary rules and regulations for the effective implementation of the proposed Act.
“This law promotes, protects, and upholds the Constitutional rights of Filipinos to health. Furthermore, it automatically enrolls all Filipino citizens in the National Health Insurance Program and prescribes complementary reforms in the health system, giving citizens access to the full continuum of health services they need, while protecting them from enduring financial hardship as a result,” Sarmiento said.
During House budget deliberations last August 28, DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III told the House Committee on Appropriations that there will be no nationwide implementation of Universal Health Care (UHC) law next year due to budget constraints and lack of readiness.
He said their proposed P88-billion appropriations for next year will be “insufficient” to cover the entire cost of healthcare in the country, particularly for poor Filipinos.
Duque said they have identified certain provinces that would serve as “a model” for the implementation of the various components of RA No. 11223, even as he also cited the need to launch capacity building in different provinces, which under the law, would serve as “the convergence points of integration.”