Monday, August 22, 2011

Proposed 2012 National Health Budget: A perpetuation of government’s neglect on people’s health and welfare of health workers

Press Statement
August 20, 2011



National President, Alliance of Health Workers
Mobile Phone: 09189276381

The 2012 proposed budget for health increased by 31.7% from P32.427B in 2011 to P42.693B. However, this deceptive increase is not intended to improve public health services or make public hospitals relevant and accessible to poor patients.

The purported increase goes only on the P12.028B allocation for Philhealth subsidy to the poorest 5.2 million families (20% of the population) and P3B for national government counterpart for PPP projects to be implemented on government hospitals starting next year. Minus the P3.5B allocated for Philhealth subsidy for this year (2011), the health budget actually went down by 5% or P152M.

The Philhealth subsidy for the lowest 20% of the population negates the fact that 80% of our people relied on public health facilities for their health needs. Thus, leaving the next 60% of our people vulnerable to the increased health services that will result in the privatization of health services brought about by the PPP projects in public hospitals.  The supposed “zero balance billing” for the 22 most common ailments that will be started this September, covers only the poorest 20% of our people, leaving even those in the formal labor sector (and supposedly covered by Philhealth) to absorb the increased hospitalization cost, in excess of the Philhealth capitation.  Furthermore, it is a fact that Philhealth capitation covers only about 30% of the total health care costs.

It also failed to provide additional plantilla positions for public health care facilities in spite of admission from the DOH Secretary himself that public hospitals are understaffed by 300% for nurses alone (1:30 nurse-patient ratio in stead of the ideal 1:10 ratio).  The 12,000 nurses for 2012 under the RN HEALS program is only an annual (sic - temporary/contractual) employment opportunity, and a " drop in the bucket" compared to the more than 300,000 unemployed or mis-employed registered nurses.  The RN HEALS program is also a form of exploitation of our health professionals, comparable to the "volunteer with fees" in hospitals, because nurses under the said program only received P8,000.00 as monthly renumeration, compared to P17,099.00 starting monthly salary for regular government nurses. 

The proposed 2012 national budget further decreased by P3M, the allocation for Magna Carta benefits for public health workers from P714M to P711M; instead of increasing it by P1.5B - to include all public health workers at the DedEd, hospitals under the DOH, and other agencies such as PGH and UP Manila (with P250M shortfall).  Ever since the enactment of the law (RA 7305) in 1992, the national government failed to allocate funds for these benefits; thus, hospitals under the DOH have been sourcing their Magna Carta benefits from savings and internally generated funds.

Finally, by centralizing the capital outlay of public hospitals under the DOH (through the Facilities Enhancement Program) (P5.078B) at the DOH Central Office; and all unfilled positions in the government (P23.427B) at the DBM, the Pnoy government only perpetuated the lump-sum appropriations practiced by the previous administration, which have been proven to be the source of large scale corruption.#

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