Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Monday sponsored Senate Bill No. 1076 which seeks to establish nationwide Malasakit Centers in the country’s public hospitals to see to the welfare of patients with financial woes.

In his speech, the lawmaker said that the bill aims to provide medical and financial assistance to indigent and financially incapacitated patients through a one-stop shop called Malasakit Center and ensure that patients experience and receive compassion, respect and empathy or “malasakit” in the availing health services.

Go noted that with the passage of Republic Act No. 11223 or the “Universal Health Care Act” into law after President Rodrigo Duterte approved the measure, establishing Malasakit Centers can address the challenge of alleviating the financial burden of indigent and financially incapacitated patients and families who can only afford the health services of public hospitals.

“The benefits under the Universal Health Care rely on health benefits package as determined by the Philhealth. As such, out-of-pocket expenditures may still arise if the benefit packages are not enough to cover the medical needs of indigent and poor patients,” said Go.

According to the senator, data from “Mercer Marsh Benefits 2019 Medical Trends Around the World” showed that medical inflation rate will outpace actual inflation in the country and is projected to rise to 13.7 percent.

“This makes our medical inflation rate the second highest in the ASEAN Region, next to Vietnam’s 14.2 percent,” said Go, adding that in 2017, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported that out-of-pocket payment accounted for 55 percent of health expenditures despite the safety nets of already provided by Philhealth.

President Duterte’s former top aide also stressed that the country is still in a state of transition in the full implementation of the UHC and the reality remains that there will still be a need for medical assistance, and financial support for patients.

“We aim to fill that gap through various assistance offered by various government agencies,” said Go.

“This depressing situation led the Duterte government to establish Malasakit Centers in public hospitals. It is one of the solutions we have developed to provide quick and quality access to healthcare to all Filipinos, regardless of their age, sex, ethnic background, religion and political affiliation,” he added.

The senator noted that the Malasakit Centers serve as a one-stop shop where Filipinos can seek financial and medical assistance provided by various government agencies and if passed, Filipinos will no longer have to endure long lines in different agencies to avail assistance.

“Currently, we have established 42 Malasakit Centers nationwide which serve 160,000 patients every month,” said Go, adding that the measure also seeks to institutionalize the establishment of Malasakit Centers in all DoH-retained hospitals.

“It consolidates under one roof the assistance given by the DoH, DSWD and PCSO and to clarify, we are not providing additional funds for assistance, we are merely establishing a one-stop shop for medical and financial assistance,” Go stressed.