Casiño on Orthopedic privatization: ‘Tagos sa buto ang pahirap na ito’

THIS is privatization masquerading as modernization,” said senatorial bet Teddy Casiño at a protest action against the supposed modernization of the Philippine Orthopedic Center (POC).

“Ang pahirap na ito ay tagos sa buto ng mamamayan,” he added, explaining that the hospital will be maintained and run by a private entity for 25 years.

“This would definitely affect poor patients’ access to health care, PhilHealth members or not, because the rates will be set by the private concessionaire and hospital operators “based on existing market rates”, said the Bayan Muna representative.

“Also since the concessionaire will have the freedom to choose the new health facility’s employees, health workers’ security of tenure will be affected, despite the claims of the Department of Health (DOH) that they will not lose their jobs,” he added.

Casiño further explained that “we are not against the improvement of facilities of POC. It should be pursued by the government as part of its Constitutional mandate to uphold and protect the people’s right to health. However, POC’s improvement was never a priority of the government, otherwise it should have allotted adequate budget to the POC.”

Government allotment for POC increased by only 2-3% since 2009, and was even reduced by 2.94% from 2011-2012, amid the inflation rate of 3.8-4.6% (NSCB, 2009-2011). The hospital has also been deprived of capital outlay allotment since 2010.”

“The new health facility will be similar to government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC) hospitals where service patients get “free” doctors’ services but pay for medicines, supplies, and confinement. This is in contrast to the present operations of POC where poor patients are provided bed, services and available medicines and supplies for free.”

The Makabayan senatorial candidate has long been pushing for a higher health budget to address the needs of public hospitals. He is also actively opposing moves to privatize government hospitals.

“Health is a matter of life and death. The responsibility of developing public health care should never be left to profiteering private enterprises. Privatization of public hospitals should be stopped,” ended Casiño.

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