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Province eyes UHC implementation next year

BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN

The provincial government of Negros Occidental is eyeing the implementation of Universal Health Care (UHC) in the province starting next year.

This developed as the provincial government is set to hold a health summit on November 24, in preparation for UHC implementation.

Under UHC, all Filipinos are entitled to health coverage that will lower out of pocket health expenses, following their automatic enrollment into the National Health Insurance Program.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Ernell Tumimbang yesterday said the UHC health summit aims to identify government health care providers to fund the UHC implementation in Negros Occidental.

The PhilHealth and the Department of Health have been identified as among the “funders” of UHC implementation in Negros Occidental, which was identified by the national government as among the advance implementation sites in the country.

This would mean that PhilHealth will be in charge of paying health care providers like hospitals and clinics for services given to Filipinos. Although this is already a function PhilHealth carries out, the UHC law wants to pool more funds so it can cover all Filipinos and eventually, more services.

Expecting funding from the national government, Tumimbang said a special “health board” for the UHC will be organized, on top of the existing health board, to manage the funds and to establish policy directions.

He added that mayors will also be briefed on the UHC implementation during the summit.

At present, the provincial government continues to implement its Negros Occidental Comprehensive Health Care Program (NOCHP), where the poorest of the poor are majority of its beneficiaries.

The program, which was implemented in 2010 by the late Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr, is now being duplicated in Bacolod City, by Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez, who implemented it also in the 3rd district of Negros Occidental, when he was the congressman for nine years.*

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