(NOVEMBER 11, 2019) – The Senate on Monday unanimously approved on third and final reading a bill that will institutionalize Malasakit Centers or one-stop shops for medical and financial assistance in 73 hospitals run by the Department of Health in the country.
Senator Bong Go’s Senate Bill No. 1076 seeks to consolidate the assistance provided by the DOH, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation in one office for easier access for patients or their representatives.
Go said there are 50 Malasakit Centers nationwide which serve more than 160,000 patients as of the moment and are under the Individual Medical Assistance Program of the PCSO.
“The Malasakit Center is one of the solutions the Duterte government has developed to provide quick and quality access to healthcare to all Filipinos, regardless of their age, sex, ethnic background, religion and political affiliation,” Go said in his speech.
The senator also lauded colleagues for making the proposal a priority at the onset of the 18th Congress.
The proposal adopted Senators Risa Hontiveros and Franklin Drilon’s amendments which respectively provides “critical information on healthy behaviors and conduct health promotion activities” and ensures the proposed legislation would not limit the “access to or availability of medical and financial assistance to indigents only and financially incapacitated patients.”
Under the bill, hospitals run by local government units and other public hospitals can also establish their own Malasakit Centers so long as they meet a set of criteria that will guarantee funds for the centers’ operations.
Go said one of the functions of the Malasakit Centers is to provide patients with referrals to healthcare provider networks and information about membership, coverages, and benefits in the National Health Insurance Program.
Besides this, the centers will also document and process data from patients as a form of evaluation of the hospital’s overall service and how changes can be institutionalized.
The Malasakit Center Act will complement the Universal Health Care law that aims for a more comprehensive set of health services without financial hardship, especially for those who reside in remote areas.
“Pera niyo po ito. Ibinabalik lang sa inyo sa pamamagitan ng mabilis, maayos at maaasahang serbisyong medikal para sa lahat ng Pilipino,” Go added.
A counterpart bill in the House of Representatives has hurdled the committee level. Once it is approved by the lower chamber, it would be up for President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature. (Randell Ritumalta/MM)