50th Malasakit Center opens in Baguio City

November 08, 2019
Bong Go
SENATOR Bong Go leads the opening of the 50th Malasakit Center in Baguio City.

SENATOR Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go visited Baguio City on Thursday to attend the opening of the 50th Malasakit Center in the country and witness the turnover of a P200-million check that will be used in establishing the city’s 911 command center.

The Malasakit Center, dubbed a “one-stop shop” for financial assistance, was opened at the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center. It is the first Malasakit Center in Cordillera Administrative Region and the 22nd in Luzon.

Explaining the purpose of the Malasakit Center, Go said in his speech, “Nandito na po sa isang bahay ang apat na ahensiya ng gobyerno. Hindi na mauubos ang panahon niyo kakapila sa iba’t ibang opisina.”

The agencies with medical assistance programs available in Malasakit Centers are the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Health (DOH) and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

Go added that patients or their representatives will only need to go to the Malasakit Center inside the hospital and fill out one unified form. Senior citizens and persons with disabilities will be entertained in a priority lane. This removes the burden for patients of traveling to different offices just to receive medical assistance from concerned government agencies.

“Zero balance po ang target natin dito. Para po ito sa indigent patients. Huwag po natin silang pahirapan. Gusto natin mabilis na serbisyo,” Go added.

He also said that, through legislation, he is pushing for the continued operations of the Malasakit Centers. “Sa ngayon, initiative ito ng Office of the President. At para ma-institutionalize at tuloy-tuloy ito kahit tapos na ang termino ni Pangulong Duterte, I filed the Malasakit Center Act of 2019. Kahapon, pumasa na ito sa second reading sa Senado. Hopefully, sa Lunes maipapasa na ito sa third reading.”

He also shared that members of the House of Representatives are supportive of the proposal. “Hinihintay natin na matapos na nila ang second reading at maipasa na bago matapos ang taon.”

Intended to reduce the out-of-pocket expenditures of indigent and poor patients including non-medical expenses, like transportation costs, SB 1076 seeks to establish Malasakit Centers in all DOH-run hospitals throughout the country.

The centers will serve as one-stop shops for all medical and financial assistance to indigent and poor patients, putting in one center all government agencies presently involved in giving these medical assistances. Malasakit Centers will also serve as health care processing centers for patient assistance and referral to provide much needed system support for patient navigation under the Universal Health Care (UHC) Law.

Go said that he seeks to institutionalize and set criteria for the establishment of Malasakit Centers to ensure that these centers are properly staffed so that concerned agencies are represented and are functioning properly to help every Filipino in need.

“Pera niyo po ito. Ibinabalik lang sa inyo sa pamamagitan ng mabilis, maayos at maaasahang serbisyong medikal para sa lahat ng Pilipino,” Go said.

Meanwhile, budgetary support for the city’s 911 command center, issued by the Office of the President, was also turned over at the hospital. “Ibinigay po ni (Presidential Assistant for the Visayas) Secretary Michael Dino kay (Baguio City) Mayor Benjamin Magalong,” Go said.

The 911 command center is intended to manage traffic, peacekeeping and disasters in Baguio City and patterned after the 911 emergency services that President Rodrigo Duterte established in Davao City when he was serving as its mayor.

To discourage prank calls, the senator has filed a bill seeking to penalize prank callers to emergency hotlines.