To ensure affordability of health services to the people, the House of Representatives has unanimously approved on third and final reading the proposed “Anti-Privatization of Public Hospitals, Health Facilities and Health Services Act.”
House Bill 7437, supported by all 218 House members present during the plenary voting, seeks to prohibit the privatization and corporatization of public hospitals, health facilities, and health services and provides penalties for violations thereof.
Principally authored by Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, the bill highlights the policy of the State to ensure the protection and promotion of the people’s right to health and instill health consciousness among them.
The bill advances the State policy to make essential goods, health and other services available to all people at affordable cost.
Public hospitals are defined as all Department of Health-retained as well as national, provincial and regional hospitals under the local government units.
Public health facilities refer to health centers, lying-in clinics, and barangay health stations under the national or local government. Meanwhile, public health services refer to all diagnostic, laboratory, medical, surgical and health-related services provided by public hospitals and public health facilities to indigent, service or poor patients.
At least 90 percent of the total bed capacity of all public hospitals shall be allotted for indigent, service or poor patients pursuant to Republic Act 1939, otherwise known as “An Act Prescribing the Appropriate Share of the National, Provincial, City, and Municipal Governments in the Financial Contributions for the Operation and Maintenance of Free Beds in Government Hospitals and/or the Establishment of Additional Wards or Hospitals in the Philippines.” Maricel V. Cruz
Privatization is defined in the bill as the process in which non-government actors become increasingly involved in the financing and the provision of health care services which include: 1) outright sale; 2) public-private partnership; 3) corporatization; 4) contracting-out of equipment; 5) joint venture; 6) franchising; 7) management control and corporatization; 8) leasing; and 9) imposition of user charges.
Under no circumstances shall the Secretary of Health or any person, whether natural or juridical, initiate, cause, and approve the privatization of any public hospital, health facility, and health service.
Any person, whether natural or juridical, who initiates, causes, and approves the privatization of any public hospital, public health facility or public health service shall be considered in violation of the proposed Act.
For the first offense, violators shall pay a fine of P100,000 to P200,00 and face suspension of one to two years from holding public office. Those who commit the second offense shall pay a fine of P200,000 to P500,000 and face temporary disqualification from holding any public office from three to six years.
Lastly, those who commit third offense shall pay a fine of P500,000 to P800,000 and face removal from office and perpetual disqualification from holding any public position or office.