‘Malasakit Center Act of 2019’ approved on second reading

Published November 7, 2019, 6:58 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Mario Casayuran

The 24-member Senate has approved on second reading Senate Bill 1076, or the “Malasakit Center Act of 2019”, after adopting several amendments from senators.

Senate of the Philippines (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)
Senate of the Philippines (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

The bill is the pet measure of neophyte Senator Christopher Lawrence ‘’Bong’’ Go.

Among those who submitted amendments and subsequently adopted in last Wednesday’s plenary session were Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto, Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon and Senators Ana Theresa “Risa” Hontiveros and Go himself.

One of the significant amendments to the bill’s current form allows a patient or his or her representative to access and request medical and financial assistance directly from the concerned agencies, in addition to what the Malasakit Centers seek to provide.

Drilon also sought to ensure that the law would not limit access to assistance to or availability of medical and financial assistance only to indigent and financially incapacitated patients.

Go emphasized in his previous statements that the services from the Malasakit Center are intended for all Filipinos.

The bill was also modified so that it will not exclude individual referrals to other agencies for financial assistance.

For his part, Recto initiated his individual amendments by congratulating Go for the measure, saying that it promotes “greater efficiency of availing medical and financial [assistance] through one-stop shops.”

However, Recto, among his other proposed amendments, noted that the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) should be included in the measure which provides for the establishment of Malasakit Centers in the Department of Health (DOH)-run hospitals.

PGH is run by the University of the Philippines – Manila.

Go, then, agreed for PGH to be specifically mentioned in the bill, saying that he “interposes no objection as it is a premier national university hospital.”

He explained that there is currently a Malasakit Center established in PGH to help patients in need of medical assistance in Manila.

Hontiveros also proposed to enhance the health promotion and education functions of the Malasakit Centers.

Intended to reduce the out-of-pocket expenditures of the indigent and poor patients including non-medical expenses, like transportation costs, the Senate bill seeks to establish Malasakit Centers in all DOH-run hospitals throughout the country.

The centers will serve as one-stop shops for all medical and financial assistance to indigent and poor patients, putting in one center all government agencies presently involved in giving this assistance.

Malasakit Centers will also serve as health care processing centers for patient assistance and referral to provide much-needed system support for patient navigation under the Universal Health Care (UHC) Law.

At present, there are 49 Malasakit Centers already established nationwide.

Go said that he seeks to institutionalize and set criteria for the establishment of Malasakit Centers to ensure that these centers are properly staffed so that concerned agencies are represented and are functioning properly to help every Filipino in need.

‘’This is your money. We are giving back to you through fast, orderly and reliable medical services for all Filipinos,” Go said.