The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a bill that seeks to integrate hospice and palliative care into the Philippine health care system.
House Bill 6422, of Nueva Ecija Rep. Estrellita Suansing, seeks to improve the quality of life of terminally ill patients and minimize the financial burden of their families, the authors stressed.
Likewise, the measure aims to prevent the draining of resources of public hospitals and local government units in providing medical and financial support to terminally ill indigent patients.
The bill mandates all government and private hospitals to provide palliative and hospice care to all patients with life-threatening illness.
Hospitals are required to link with an effective referral and aftercare network that is organized and made functional by all provincial, city, and municipal governments under the guidance and monitoring of the Department of Health.
Under the bill, rural health units, health care centers and health offices are required to develop home-based or near home palliative care program in coordination with government-owned and privately-owned hospices in the local government units.
The measure requires hospitals, private hospice institutions, medical practitioners, health and social workers for hospice and palliative care to be accredited by the DoH in partnership with the National Hospice and Palliative Care Council of the Philippines to ensure standard quality services.
On the other hand, health care professionals and volunteers from national to local levels are tasked to undergo multi-disciplinary education and training on palliative and hospice care support services to be conducted by the DoH in partnership with accredited palliative and hospice care institutions.
To ensure quality hospice and palliative care services, the bill provides that accredited hospitals and hospices should have adequate number of multi-specialty personnel; assured financing for health and custodial services; clear and practical standards for facilities and services; appropriately designed and equipped facilities; and regular and systematic supervision and reporting to the DoH.
As for the provision on funding support, the measure states that all non-profit, DoH accredited hospice and palliative care institutions, which are serving indigent patients, shall qualify as institutional beneficiaries under the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office Institutional Financial Program.
Meanwhile, the bill provides that all grants, bequests, endowments, donations, and contributions made to the DoH to be used, directly, and exclusively for hospice and palliative care programs shall be exempt from donor’s tax and the same shall be allowed as deduction from the gross income of the donor.
Allocation of funds for training, education, and promotion of the health program on palliative and hospice care is also provided under the bill.