Cruel game-A A +A
Friday, September 14, 2012
EVEN as the RH Bill is fighting for dear life in Congress so poor Pinoys can have effective access to reproductive health services, some legislators are introducing bills that would afford the poor even less basic health services. House Bill 6069, introduced by Rep. Anthony Rolando T. Golez, Jr., and Senate Bill 3130 by Sens.
Franklin M. Drilon and Edgardo J. Angara, Jr. aim to convert 26 government hospitals into government corporations.
The idea is supposedly “to have an affordable and accessible system of health care services and products for the Pinoys.” However, I just cannot see how government hospitals, if corporatized, will help achieve that. Corporatization will make them perhaps more efficient but it will be at the cost of being less responsive to the needs of poor Pinoys.
For poor Pinoys the medical products and services of government hospitals are their life-savers in times of a health emergency. Their problem now is they can’t afford a private doctor or hospital yet government is not allocating enough funds to the country’s public health system. There is even talk that private hospitals are threatening to close their charity wards because PhilHealth is not paying them for their claims.
Yet, it is not like the country does not have money. It is more a question of priorities, a matter of the government not putting a high priority on people’s health in the national budget. The solution, therefore, is to prioritize health and allocate sufficient funds so government hospitals will not lack for affordable medicines and other services to the poor.
The solution is not corporatization. I cannot see how the products and services of a corporate hospital can be more “affordable and accessible” to the poor. I can, however, easily see how privatization will worsen the people’s problem of where to run to for their medical needs. Privatized hospitals have to generate their own funds by making a profit on their operation. To survive, therefore, these hospitals have to put a premium on efficiency. This the private investors, as called for by the Bill, will insure.
Corporate efficiency means a leaner organization. Hence, many government employees will lose their jobs. It also means medicines and services will be priced to make a profit. Hence, necessarily prices of medicines and services will go up.
Politicians have to be completely out of touch with people’s lives to think corporatization will solve the latter’s medical problems. They have to be so secure in their own comfortably insulated existence as to play games with people’s welfare.
In the cruel game of corporatization the winners will be the politicians’ favored private investors while the poor will be the losers.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 15, 2012.