By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Risa Hontiveros on Thursday urged the government to prioritize the roll out of primary health care services under the Universal Health Care (UHC) law, saying its implementation is critical at this time.
Senator Risa Hontiveros
(Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)
Hontiveros said she is appalled at the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.’s (PhilHealth) recommendation to delay the implementation of the UHC law which is badly needed now while the government strives to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is first and foremost a health crisis,” Hontiveros said in a statement.
“I am shocked by, and disagree with, PhilHealth's recommendation of a ‘general delay’ in the implementation of the Universal Healthcare Law and to postpone the expansion of Primary Care Benefits,” she further said.
The senator said the current pandemic will serve as the “litmus test” of the efficacy of the UHC law and whether or not it needs to be strengthened.
“I urge the government to prioritize more subsidies towards UHC implementation through current tax collection, budget allocations, and if needed, borrowings,” she said.
“Prioritizing the roll out of primary health care benefit lessens the need for hospitalization and will be more efficient in the long run because it will save the government funds that would have been spent on costlier treatments,” the lawmaker stressed.
During the joint congressional committee hearing on the UHC law, PhilHealth President and CEO Ricardo Morales called for a delay in the implementation of the UHC law and to suspend the primary health care services saying the state health insurer is now low on funds due to the COVID -19 pandemic.