Lacson, Sotto determined to provide bigger healthcare funding as pandemic eases

The problems concerning the country’s healthcare sector that were exposed during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic will remain high up on the list of priorities of Partido Reporma standard-bearer Senator Panfilo ‘"Ping" Lacson and running mate Senate President Vicente Sotto III even as the nation shifts its attitudes toward the health crisis.

In a press conference held last Thursday, March 3 during their visit to Sorsogon, Lacson said he wants to provide better funding for the Department of Health (DOH) on top of the Department of Education (DepEd), which always receives the lion’s share of the national budget in accordance with the Constitution.

The reasoning behind this is the Universal Healthcare Act of 2018 (UHC Law) that Lacson wants to be fully implemented under his administration.

For it to happen, the government has to provide at least P257 billion to achieve its target of providing free and better healthcare services for the Filipinos, he reasoned out.

‘'Because we are going to transition from pandemic to endemic, we need to pay attention to our Department of Health. The DOH has a budget allocation of P268 billion for 2022. But if we’re going to invest fully in universal healthcare, we need an additional P257 billion,’’ he said.

Lacson explained that the P268-billion budget of the DOH is only intended for the current fiscal year. It does not cover the funding necessary for the UHC Law, which seeks to usher in massive reforms in the healthcare sector such as making hospitalizations and medical services more affordable to all.

“Ang pangunahing kasama sa aming plataporma, siyempre, hindi natin pwedeng iwanan ‘yung (Part of our main campaign platforms, of course, is not to abandon) health kasi ang (because) Covid-19 is the new normal. Whether it’s pandemic or endemic, we should always prepare for the next pandemic,” said the presidential aspirant.

Lacson sees the UHC Law as a vital tool to help him prepare the healthcare sector against the threat of future pandemics as he envisions every public hospital and rural health units in the country equipped with the basic medical facilities and medicines for the benefit of Filipinos.

This is part of the future-proof policies and strategies the Lacson-Sotto tandem wants to apply under their administration, which they designed precisely to address and withstand ongoing, recurring and emerging challenges on their firm belief that there is no trade off between health and economy.

These plans are also tied to their flagship Budget Reform Advocacy for Village Empowerment (BRAVE) program that aims to devolve certain state-funded projects to the local government units toward the promotion of the social and economic well-being of their constituents.