Hospital privatization?-A A +A
Sunday, July 22, 2012
STIRRING a hornet’s nest (or a tempest in a teapot?) is House Bill No. 6069 (An Act Creating National Government Hospital Corporations) penned by Bacolod Representative Anthony Golez, and Senate Bill No. 3130 (not 3110, as many national and local papers wrote) or the National Government Hospital Corporate Restructuring Act of Senator Franklin Drilon.
Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr., for one, took umbrage. “If a bill calls for privatization of hospitals, the people will riot against it and I will lead them,” warned Marañon.
I checked what Golez’s HB 6069 actually said, and below is what I found. You can read what he said in the Facebook page of the House of Representatives of the Philippines at https://www.facebook.com/notes/house-of-representatives-of-the-philippin....
The key phrases of Golez’s House Bill No. 6069 are “to create and nurture national government hospitals” and “a mechanism wherein medical care for indigent patients will be subsidized.”
The bill seeks to give 26 national government hospitals the status of being corporations, giving them fiscal autonomy. It seeks to provide these hospitals the means to earn more money in providing health services to the poor.
The corporatization of the current government hospitals will also (sic) fiscal autonomy, which is expected to create a more efficient and effective delivery of health care.
On the other hand, Senator Drilon’s Senate Bill 3130 said—and I quote its Press Release in the Senate website can be found here: http://www.senate.gov.ph/press_release/2012/0327_drilon1.asp
The key phrases in Drilon’s SB 3130 are “the provision of basic health services remains one of the most essential functions of the government,” “conversion of national government hospitals into government-owned and controlled corporations”—but not privatized companies—and “engage in revenue-generating activities, and proceeds of which can be used to subsidize medical care of indigent patients.”
SB 3130 bats for the alignment of the present organizational structure of the 26 medical institutions with that of the government corporations which will include the Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital and the Western Visayas Medical Center in Region VI.
From where I sit, the bills seems to hew more to the University of the Philippines System of socialized tuition where higher-income students have to pay more to study at the state university to subsidize poor students and give them equal opportunities to study there.
Or perhaps the demand side mechanism in the energy sector where people who consume more power will have to pay more so that power utilities can provide discounts to consumers who use less electricity in their households.
From the standpoint of political economy, the bills reflect a mixed economy of State-owned corporations combined with centralized planning and the market economy. The question is how these entities will depend on state subsidies and from the market to run its operations.
In summary, the bills propose that subsidies will come not from taxpayers but from the better off patients who will foot the bill of the poor. In other words, a legislated version of the Robin Hood principle of taking from the rich and providing for the poor.
The more generous description of both bills, however, would be the verse from St. Luke12:48: “For everyone to whom much is given, of him shall much be required (or expected).”
Of course, since President Fidel V. Ramos’s terms, GOCCs have been privatized. Will government-owned, government-controlled hospitals follow the same route? At this point, the direction remains unclear.
Perhaps the devil is in the details on how our Robin Hood solons propose to enforce the subsidy mechanisms for the poor, which will need further research.
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Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on July 22, 2012.