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DoH told to expand care for poor


THE HOUSE of Representatives committee on appropriations on Monday ordered the Department of Health (DoH) to improve its implementation of a program that gives poor patients free medical care in government hospitals by expanding its coverage to include private and semi-private wards.

Congressmen agreed on the motion amid reports that poor patients were being forced to stay in private and semi-private wards, which are not free, for lack of bed space in charity wards.

“I move that the secretary of Health be directed to issue an administrative circular reiterating to all DoH, National Government and local government hospitals that the application of the No Balance Billing [policy] includes admission in a private room,” IloIlo Rep. Janette L. Garin, a former Health secretary, told a committee hearing.

Under the policy, poor patients will not be charged additional fees beyond the packaged rates during their confinement period.

“We need to triple our bed capacity to serve millions of Filipinos,” Health Secretary Teodoro J. Herbosa told the hearing.

He said the Philippines has a bed-to-population ratio of 0.5 per 1,000. “The minimum for a health system to function is 1.5 beds per 1,000,” he added. — Kenneth Christiane L. Basilio

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