Anti-Hospital Deposit Law is only a stop-gap measure
We write in reference to President Duterte’s recently signed Republic Act No. 10932 or the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law, which amends Batas Pambansa Bilang 702.
The Coalition for People’s Right to Health (CPRH) welcomes the new law and views it as a positive step in minimizing deaths or complications during medical emergency situations. In the same vein, CPRH regards such amendment as a clear indication of the continuing problem with regard to hospitals’ refusal to give important services to patients who cannot provide deposit payment for such services.
The enactment of RA 10932, in the context of a public healthcare system that is deteriorating, unavoidably appears to be a stop-gap approach to curbing deaths and complications because of hospitals’ refusal to treat patients in emergency situations.
The reality is that Filipino patients face a two-edged sword. Patients and families are driven to go to private hospitals because of the dismal state of public health facilities in general. Many public health facilities lack the appropriate structure, equipment, personnel, or supplies.
A 2012 data from the Philippine Health Service Delivery Profile—complied in collaboration between the World Health Organization and the Department of Health—revealed that only 720 (40 percent) of 1,800 hospitals are public. Of these, only 70 were retained by DOH. Of the 17 regions, only four have sufficient number of beds per 1,000 population, the study indicated.
Health personnel in public health facilities do not have it any better—they are overworked and underpaid. Nurse-to-patient ratio is as high as 1:80-100 while doctor-to-patient ratio has skyrocketed to 1:30,000. The high density of patients per health worker also contributes to the dismal public health situation.
In this regard, CPRH believes that in order to address the problem of some hospitals’ refusal to administer appropriate medical treatment and support in emergency cases, the state should assume its full responsibility to people’s health as enshrined in the Constitution and ensure that all facilities, structures, and human health resources are adequate and in place especially in far-flung areas.
Hence, CPRH would like to recommend the following measures to address the aforementioned problems: 1) improve emergency case capacities of public hospitals; 2) increase budget for public hospitals’ maintenance and other operating expenses; 3) ensure hospital emergency assistance funds; 4) follow WHO-prescribed health-worker-to patient-ratio.
Lastly, we call upon the general public to unite and push for free health services for the the people.
ELEANOR A. JARA, MD and JULIE P. CAGUIAT, MD, coconveners, Coalition for People’s Right to Health, [email protected]
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