The House of Representatives has approved House Bill 7437 or the Anti-privatization of Public Hospitals, Health Facilities and Health Services Act that bars the Health secretary or any other person from initiating, causing or approving the privatization of any public hospital, public health facility or public health services, whether natural or juridical.
The bill defines privatization as a process in which non-government actors become increasingly involved in the financing and the provision of health care services which includes outright sale, public-probate partnership, corporatization, contracting out of equipment, joint venture, franchising, management control and leasing and user changes.
Likewise, the bill provides that at least 90 percent of the total bed capacity of all public hospitals should be allotted for indigent or poor patients.
“This will address the lack of access and inequality in health care brought about by the privatization of public health services,” the Committee Report on the measure read.
“This will also enable indigent patients to access quality health care in public hospitals, public health facilities and public health services,” it added.
A person who will violate the proposed law will be fined P100,000 to P200,000 and suspended for one to two years from public office for the first offense.
A second offense would mean a P200,000 to P500,000 fine on top of temporary disqualification from holding any public office for three to six years.
For the third offense, the violator will will be slapped a fine of P500,000 to P800,000 and perpetual disqualification from holding any public office.
Among the authors of the measure were Makabayan bloc party-list Representatives Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna; Antonio Tinio and France Castro of Alliance of Concerned Teachers; Arlene Brosas and Emerenciana de Jesus of Gabriela, Ariel Casilao of Anakpawis and Sarah Elago of Kabataan.
Article 13, Section 11 of the 1987 Constitution states that the government should adopt an integrated and comprehensive approach to health development which shall endeavor to make essential goods, health and other social services available to all the people at affordable cost. Likewise, the 1987 Charter provides that there should be a “priority for the needs of the underprivileged sick, elderly, disabled, women, and children.”
There were efforts to privatize the state-run Philippine Orthopedic Center (POC) in 2015. It did not push through because of widespread public protests.