DOH

Cancer fund up by P.5B under DoH budget

August 20, 2023 People's Tonight 256 views

THE good news is that the Marcos administration is seeking an almost half-a-billion peso increase – or to P2.02 billion – for cancer control and cancer patient assistance funds in the proposed P5.76 trillion national budget for 2024, House Deputy Speaker and Batangas City Rep. Ralph Recto said.

The bad news is that the Department of Health’s (DoH) proposed “agency proper” budget for 2024 will suffer a P10 billion cut, Recto said.

But the other good news, Recto said, “is just like in the past, Congress and the executive, in the spirit of cooperation, will find ways on how to increase the health budget.”

Recto blamed “the big payroll and overhead in maintaining a large bureaucracy, plus rising debt service” for boxing out social services.

“If the budget were a sculpture, then revenues are the clay from which it is made from. Hindi ka maaring humulma na malaki kung kulang ang materyales mo,” he said.

But in a break from the past when Congress would chide the Palace for cutting cancer control and treatment allocations, this time the Marcos administration has proposed that this year’s Cancer Assistance Fund be doubled to P1 billion next year.

On top of this is P1.02 billion for the Cancer Control Fund, bringing to P2.02 billion the earmarked funds to combat a disease which killed almost 60,000 Filipinos in 2021, or one every nine minutes.

“Pwede pa idagdag dito ang proposed P28 billion para sa gamot sa susunod na taon, at panukalang P22.2 billion para pambawas ng hospital bill na nasa Medical Assistance for Indigent Fund (MAIF), Recto said in citing other sources.

And, of course, Congress will be appropriating P101 billion in premium payments to PhilHealth to achieve universal health care, which brings gross DOH budget to P306.1billion.

But some of these amounts, he said, “should be treated as the floor and not the ceiling and should be augmented as they are lower than what has been appropriated for this year.”

For example, the DOH budget will dip from P209.1 billion this year to P199.1 billion next year, as proposed by Malacanang, Recto said.

“The MAIF will get a P10 billion reduction, from this year’s P32.6 billion to the proposed P22.2 billion for 2024, unless both houses of Congress restore it to this year’s level,” Recto said.

Four Quezon City-based hospitals, the Lung, Kidney, Heart and Children’s Centers, which President Marcos wants replicated in the regions, will face a combined cut of almost P818 million.

One major component of the DOH budget – Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases – has been earmarked P1.7 billion, a deep P1.2 billion cut from this year’s P2.9 billion, and even lower than the Palace’s original request of P2 billion for 2023.

Overall, the health services sector has a proposed cash-based budget of P325 billion for 2024, P2 billion lower than this year’s.

“Pero ang computation na ‘yan ay inflated kasi pati yung panukalang P2.7 billion para sa Veteran’s Hospital na nasa DND isinama, ‘yung P1.3 billion para sa dalawang ahensya ng DOST isinama, pati ‘yung nakapark na pangsweldo na P8.8 billion sa hiwalay na personnel benefits fund kasama din,” he said.

Recto said “budget-wise, the DOH is still reeling from the effects of long COVID as shown by the proposed P20 billion allocation for ‘Public Health Emergency Benefits’ for health workers.”

“Pag nabayaran na ang arrears sa mga frontliners, ang laking budget space nito para sa kalusugan sa 2025,” he said.

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