Saturday, August 22, 2009

Labor group demands full blown inquiry into Philhealth’s bad health

PRESS RELEASE
21 August 2009


A labor partylist group, Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), is calling for a full blown inquiry by Congress on the reported impending collapse of the Philhealth system so that the people, especially the working class, can get into the bottom of what could be another scam or lest a case of wanton neglect of the government’s soleuniversal health care system.

“Workers cannot afford to lose their only source of universal health care system, thus whoever would be found responsible for its collapse must be tried for committing this kind of horrendous act,” PM chair Renato Magtubo said.

Reports that unpaid government accounts amounting to some P20-B, contributed mainly to the financial hemorrhage of the system. The labor group wanted to know why this happed and where did their contributions go amid persistent allegations that the fund has been used by the administration during the 2004 elections and for patronage politics. Just a few years back, Philihealth had been boasting of a huge surplus.

During a Senate hearing early this week, Philhealth officials admitted that the health care system has a life of only up to 2016 if government debts are not settled.

Magtubo said the impending collapse of Philhealth will not only jeopardize the health coverage of more than 16 million wage and salaried workers but also the stake of voluntary members and non-salaried workers whose meager income made private health care a non-viable option for them.

Moreover, the labor leader said, Philhealth’s current ‘bad health’ dooms any expansion of the health care program which is a necessary step at improving the country’s human development index. Extension of universal health care for employed and unemployed persons is one of Partido ng Manggagawa’s demand for abailout package for workers.

The group pointed out that it is also during times of crisis, like this ongoing recession, where health care is doubly threatened as a consequence of job loss and chronic unemployment.

Universal health care is becoming a fundamental demand being pushed by labor groups around the globe. In the United States, for instance, a proposed legislation that would expand medicare coverage for another 50 million Americans is now hotly being debated in Congress.

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