Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Dissolution, privatization not the cure to Philhealth mess

Privatization or dissolution is a quack doctor's prescription.

Nagkaisa denounces the current moves to privatize or even dissolve Philhealth. The President’s latest instruction for Congress to abolish Philhealth has placed the full weight of this present crisis to the battered institution, rather than on individuals who were responsible for the crime.  Privatizing healthcare, even more, is a cure worse than the disease.

Privatizing Philhealth, or worse, dissolving it, based on allegations of massive corruption is not the solution. If privatization is the most sensible argument against corruption, incompetence, and patronage system in state bureaucracy, then most, if not all public institutions and government offices, should have been privatized or dissolved a long time ago.

The solution to the current mess in Philhealth is to thoroughly investigate allegations of massive and systemic corruption and hold both the appointees and the appointing powers accountable. We also fear that abolishing it may also wash down evidences of corruption in the agency as in the case of the privatization projects undertaken in the airline, water, power, and telecommunications industries, to name a few. 

Privatizing Philhealth would surely reverse our gains in institutionalizing universal health care. Privatization in most jurisdictions around the world has led to commodification of health services. Its commodification comes with higher costs of all health services as profit defines the corporations’ bottom line in rendering their services to the public.

Apart from investigating and holding to account all those responsible for draining Philhealth, what we need is:

- To repair the damage done by putting up a more effective management team

- Review its policies to plug the loopholes in the system

- Infuse more public funds to ensure the longevity of the institution

- Replace all the current sectoral reps with those who are truly representative of the sector. A strong workers' and employers'  voices from the most representative organizations of their sectors are called for.

- Develop a roadmap towards upgrading our public health system that would fully realize universal health care - from birth to death. 

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