SENATOR Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go emphasized that the Malasakit Center program is open to serve all Filipinos during the interpellation period for Senate Bill No. 199, or the “Malasakit Center Act of 2019”, sponsored by the senator.
Go answered questions from Senators Frank Drilon and Risa Hontiveros during the interpellations.
“Hindi po ba magbabago ang proseso sa bill na ito ang pagbibigay ng tulong ng aking opisina sa mga nangangailangan?” Drilon asked during his inquiry.
“Hindi po,” Go answered. “Wala po itong pipiliin. Basta Pilipino ka, qualified ka. Kahit ang mga humihingi ng tulong sa opisina ni Senator Drilon, Hontiveros, Pangilinan, pwede po kahit sino. Wala po itong pinipili.”
Asked whether patients can still directly go to the offices of concerned agencies despite the existence of Malasakit Centers, Go said they can.
However, the senator also pointed out that it might be more convenient for patients to seek assistance in Malasakit Centers since they are already inside the hospitals.
“Hindi na nila kailangan mamasahe. Bakit pa sila pupunta diyan sa Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) kung nandiyan na ang opisina?” Go said.
Go said that, currently, there are 18 Department of Health (DOH)-run hospitals with Malasakit Centers and the remaining 24 hospitals with existing Malasakit Centers are locally-run, meaning LGU, provincial and city hospitals-run. Drilon, then, clarified if the 24 locally-run hospitals are covered by the provisions of the bill.
“Sa ngayon, uunahin muna ang 72 DOH-run hospitals. We will set criteria para doon sa mga LGUs if those said hospitals meet the standards and criteria,” Go answered. “If they will not follow the standards, they cannot use the name ‘Malasakit Center’.”
Responding to Drilon’s request, Go also detailed the process of getting services in the centers, saying that he also plans to establish a similar office in the Senate’s Public Assistance Center.
He also said that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has expressed support for the creation of the office in the DOH.
Asked whether the PCSO will need to provide funds to the Malasakit Centers, Go said that the centers will not get money from the agency and the discretion of giving assistance to the patients will depend on the agencies themselves.
Go also said that he seeks to institutionalize Malasakit Centers because some offices still lack personnel.
Meanwhile, Senator Hontiveros said during the interpellations that she “fully supports interventions that seek to reduce the out-of-pocket health expenditure of all Filipinos” but sought to clarify some things regarding the proposed measure, particularly if the PCSO still has sufficient funds to provide assistance.
Go said that there are charity funds still available for the programs of the PCSO despite the UHC Law mandating 40% of such fund to go to PhilHealth.
“Hindi po kukunin ang contribution ng PCSO to the UHC,” he clarified.
“Walang gagalawin na pondo o kontribusyon ang Malasakit Center. The bill will not amend the UHC law. It will complement the law,” Go assured his colleagues.