27 April 2023 – JV: Health laws still ‘works in progress’

Published by rudy Date posted on May 5, 2023

Sheila Crisostomo – The Philippine Star
April 27, 2023 | 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Four years after the Universal Health Care (UHC) law and the National Integrated Cancer Control Act (NICCA) were passed, they remain to be “works in progress,” Sen. JV Ejercito said yesterday.

Speaking at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay media forum, Ejercito noted significant progress has been made on the implementation of the two laws which he both principally authored, but much more needs to be done.

“These laws are work in progress. It’s not that everything will be in place right after they were passed. There are birth pains but I am happy to be back at the Senate as principal author. I want to see their proper implementation,” he added.

Ejercito pointed out that both measures have not yet been implemented fully as the key stumbling block is “funding.”

“The UHC law and NICCA are two challenging, very ambitious measures but we can always try. We’ll do our best to bring down the out-of-pocket expenses of our patients and their families but there are still so many things to do,” he said.

The lawmaker maintained that “one of the biggest expenses” of each Filipino family is medical.

While there are subsidies coming from the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. and fund assistance from Congress and local government units, the out-pocket-expenses remain high at 60 to 70 percent.

He added the COVID-19 pandemic had also delayed further the full implementation of the two measures as this ate up government funds.

According to Carmen Auste, senior vice president of the Cancer Coalition Philippines, there are “12 promises of NICCA” and the implementation of six of them has started.

“The government had already done so many things with the help of civil society groups and medical organizations… But there will be no future for our patients if we will not be able to implement these laws,” she said.

Auste added that among these six “promises” is the start of construction of a cancer center at the compound of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute in Quezon City that will serve as “legacy” of the Marcos administration.

The others include the designation of cancer centers in strategic areas of the country and the establishment of a project management office.

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