Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Friday batted for an increase in the government’s budgetary subsidy to five specialty hospitals in Quezon City which draw patients from all over the country.
These are Philippine Heart Center, the Lung Center of the Philippines, the National Kidney and Transplant Institute, the Philippine Children’s Medical Center, and the Philippine Orthopedic Center.
Recto said the “patient catchment area” of the five Department of Health (DOH)-supervised medical centers is “practically the entire country.”
Because each specializes in diseases which affect many Filipinos, like cardiovascular diseases in the case of PHC and motorcycle crash victims for POC, “then increasing government’s equity in their operations would enable them to treat more poor patients,” Recto said.
“The reports we’re getting is that there is a dramatic increase in the number of people seeking treatment in these hospitals. And many of them come from faraway provinces,” he said.
“We have to increase their capacity, buy more equipment, hire more manpower in order to lessen the waiting time of patients for surgery,” Recto said.
Recto noted that while the combined bed capacity of the neighboring Lung, Heart, Kidney and Children’s Centers has remained flat, “they are now surrounded by real estate developments with thousands of condominium rooms for sale.”
“That’s the irony of it. Condo buildings are shooting up in lands previously owned by the government in that part of Metro Manila. Or these lots have been leased to them. And they have built high rises. Pero itong sa apat na ospital, tila hindi na tumaas ang imbentaryo ng pasilidad,” Recto said.
Except for the POC, the medical centers are treated as government corporations, with the budgetary subsidy they get from the government accounting for at most one-third of their total annual corporate budget.
For 2020, the PHC has a proposed budgetary subsidy of P1.4 billion; LCP, P413 million; NKTI, 900 million; and the PCMC, P1.2 billion.
The proposed 2020 budget of POC, which is a DOH-run hospital, is P830 million.
Of the amounts sought for the five in the 2020 national budget, not a single centavo is earmarked for capital outlays, the budgeting term for expenditures like buildings and equipment.
“They have to source it from their internal income, which means from paying patients, or they get generous allocations from the HFEP (Health Facilities Enhancement Program) pool.” Recto said.
The combined budget of the five accounts for 2.98 percent of the proposed gross DOH budget next year of P160 billion, which includes government releases to the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.
Recto said he will be pushing for an increase in the budget of all DOH-run hospitals including that of the Philippine General Hospital, which is under the UP System, and the Veterans Memorial Medical Center, which gets its funding from the Department of National Defense.