Press Release
September 20, 2010

As hospitals face P1.4B cut
Chiz wants part of P30B 'Dinky doleouts' given to them

Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero today said "overstretched hospitals" need "cash transfers as much as poor do."

He noted that 55 government hospitals across the country will face a budget cut of P364 million next year while four Quezon City-based hospitals--the Lung, Heart, Kidney and Children's centers--will have a combined budget slash of P1 billion.

"Putting more beds, doctors and medicines in hospitals is as much as a pro-poor initiative as putting money in their pockets," Escudero said.

"The poor's greatest fear is sickness and hospitalization. So even if you give him P1,400 a month, a minor bout with flu will wipe this out. So he'd rather prefer a facility that can he can go to in his time of need," he said.

Escudero said the government can "carpet bomb" a slum with P1,400 monthly checks under the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program but if the hospital nearest it cannot treat a dengue patient for lack of personnel and drugs, "then that assistance is for naught."

"The patient will go back to where he was before the CCT began. My point is that gains from CCT should not be lost due to our failure to improve other social nets like hospitals," Escudero said.

By CCT, Escudero was referring to the anchor program of the government's Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), a raft of direct cash or food aid to needy Filipinos that will be managed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Costing P21.2 billion, CCT will grant a monthly stipend of up to P1,400 to each of 2.3 million identified poor families on the condition that they send their children to school, bring them to health clinics for vaccinations, among other "pledges".

On top of CCT, the DSWD will implement a P2.8 billion feeding program for children; a P4.2 billion rice subsidy program; and a P890 million monthly stipend program for seniors aged 80 years and above.

Escudero wants to tweak the 4Ps menu to include "institutional support to facilities the poor patronize, like public hospitals, so whatever gains of cash transfers will not be diminished."

Another pressing reason, he said, is the "deep" P1.34 billion cut in the 2011 budgets of 55 government hospitals across the country and four Quezon City-based specialty hospitals.

Escudero added that the Department of Budget and Management has slashed the 2011 appropriation of 55 hospitals by P364 million and the four Quezon City hospitals by P971 million.

"For the poor, these are the cuts that hurt deepest. There are no options for them. If they need a heart bypass only two public hospitals--the PGH and the Heart Center--can do the operation," he said.

"DBM can always argue that PhilHealth can pick up the tab but the fact is PhilHealth does not pick up the entire tab," he said.

Escudero said "budget space" can be created by carving at least P2 billion from the CCT and use this to augment the budget of public hospitals.

News Latest News Feed