‘No delay in UHC rollout’

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Francisco T. Duque III

HEALTH Secretary Francisco T. Duque III has expressed confidence about achieving 100 percent enrollment by the end of the first year of the Universal Health Care (UHC) implementation, insisting “there is no delay” in the rollout of the program.

“The implementation of Universal Health Care is right on schedule. There is no delay to speak of,” Duque said on Monday.

“Right now, we are at 98 percent enrollment. We expect to achieve 100 percent enrollment by the end of the first year of UHC implementation,” Duque said.

Once 100 percent enrollment is achieved, the individual-based medical services which the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. reimburses or pays for will become available to all Filipinos at all PhilHealth-accredited facilities nationwide.

One key reform under the UHC Program, which Duque expects to be completed by next year is the mandatory enrollment of all Filipinos in the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP).

Lawmakers concerned

At the budget presentation of the Department of Health (DOH) at the House of Representatives last week, lawmakers expressed concern about the inclusion of only 33 provinces and cities under the department’s UHC Integration Sites (UIS) Program for the development of local health service provider networks.

However, Duque explained that the development of these provider networks is only one of many prescribed reforms under the government’s signature UHC Program.

“The UIS Program is not the be-all and end-all of the UHC Program. Though it is a critical step to address fragmentation in the health

system, the UIS Program is only one of the many reforms. Let us not confuse or equate UIS with UHC. Non-selection of an area in the UIS for 2020 does not mean that UHC will not be implemented at all in a certain area next year,” Duque said.

Duque also defended the progressive rollout approach to the UIS Program.

“The rollout of the UIS Program is nationwide in scope but progressive in approach. This is the most reasonable and cost-effective approach to ensure that local health-care provider networks will offer quality services efficiently and transparently,” Duque added.

The DOH secretary also noted that every geographical area of the country is well represented under the 2020 UIS Program: 13 integration sites are located in Luzon, 10 in Mindanao, eight in Visayas, and two in the National Capital Region.

He stressed that the 2020 UIS site map represents a fair and equitable distribution of DOH resources for the program.

“We have to remember that the transitory provisions of the UHC Act are clear when they provide for a six-year transition period for the integration of local provider networks into provincial and city health systems. We cannot demand the complete integration of over 100 provincial and city health systems overnight when the law clearly provides for a realistic six-year period to accomplish this,” Duque concluded.

Image credits: AP Photo/Aaron Favila


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