CEBU Gov. Hilario Davide III yesterday said indigents have been enjoying access to free medical care in the 12 district hospitals and four provincial hospitals in Cebu Province.
In a press statement sent to Sun.Star Cebu by Capitol Public Information Officer Ethel Natera, the governor criticized gubernatorial candidate Winston Garcia for promising free hospitalization in his campaign advertisements.
“A gubernatorial candidate promising free hospitalization in his campaign advertisements must be misinformed, ignorant or lying. How can you promise to enact something which is already enforced?” read Davide’s press statement.
Experience says no
Vice gubernatorial candidate Nerissa Soon-Ruiz said Winston Garcia was right in promising free hospitalization because the Davide administration is charging fees to patients admitted to district and provincial hospitals.
Soon-Ruiz cited the case of Minglanilla District Hospital, recalling that a child died because while there were already dextrose and medicines, they were not administered because the parents could not produce P700 as payment.
Davide said that as early as 2013, an indigent patient’s hospitalization cost, from medicines, laboratory, to surgery, are covered under Philhealth’s Point of Care Program.
Davide said indigent patients who are non-Philhealth members will, upon admission, be automatically enrolled and would then be able to avail themselves of the benefits right away. With the “No Balance Billing” scheme of Philhealth, sponsored members are discharged without paying anything.
But Garcia said the district hospitals under the Davide administration lack laboratory equipment and medicines, and are thus like “traffic enforcers” who only refer patients to hospitals in Cebu City as though they are diverting traffic on a busy street.
Soon-Ruiz said that, at one time, a newspaper reported that Davide was happy that the district and provincial hospitals are among the income-generating facilities of Cebu Province.
“That’s the reason Winston Garcia came out with the slogan: District Hospital pang-serbisyo, dili pang-negosyo,” Soon-Ruiz said.
Soon-Ruiz said that the issues on district and provincial hospitals are not only on hospital bills, but also the lack of medical facilities and equipment.
She said that if Garcia will become governor and she as vice governor, Garcia will task her to institute reforms in district hospitals.
“As a doctor of medicine, I know that district hospitals must have available medicines all the time, and must have complete laboratory facilities so patients will not anymore be referred to hospitals in Cebu City,” Soon-Ruiz said.