The Universal Health Care (UHC) Coordinating Council will keep track of the spending of the special health fund by the local government units (LGUs) and local health systems in a bid to improve the country’s health system, Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa said Tuesday.

“And what happens is there is going to be a special health fund which is actually emphasized in the law and that’s why we created the council to watch the spending of the money on the special health fund and the implementation would be standard for all different LGUs,” Herbosa said in a press briefing in Malacañang. 

Under Republic Act No. 11223 or the UHC Act, the province-wide or city-wide health system shall pool and manage, through a special health fund, all resources intended for health services to finance population-based and individual-based health services, health system operating costs, capital investments, and remuneration of additional health workers and incentives for all health workers.

“The problem we’re trying to solve is the fragmentation of the health system – we solved this during COVID. Because of the Local Government Code, local health systems were given to municipal mayors and governors – so, when the UHC Act was implemented the aim was to integrate health systems. So, you’ll come up with the provincial health board run by the governor and then it would consolidate all the health systems in the different mayors in his province – so, this is how the integration will happen,” Herbosa said. 

“So, the President knows that there are diverse implementations that our LGUs, that our good implementers of healthcare systems locally and there are those that have don’t put emphasis there – so, they like to put a national standard and that’s where the council would be able to police or monitor how LGUs and local health systems will be spending funds or income from PhilHealth, income from the other local government units and how the health system can be improved because our health systems are diverse – some are very good, some are very weak so, depending on what their levels are – that’s how the spending will come,” he said. 

Asked if the coordinating council is another layer of red tape, Herbosa said the body would provide good governance and transparency. 

“I think it’s good governance because if you’re going to give money to local government to be used in health. Dati kasi iyong health – iyong money from PhilHealth, let’s say mayor ka, mayroon kang paanakan – the reimbursement of that goes to the mayor, pero ngayon ipu-pool natin so, what happens is you pool the resources to that special health fund so that you can really allocate for things that are needed in the local health system. So, you also need to coordinate with the private sector, it can also receive funds,” he said. 

“So, hopefully to be able to implement this there are many things we need to do eh – the other one is COA needs to change the way they audit the financing system because this is going to be different, it’s going to be put in the fund and then reimburse people or pay for salaries of doctors and nurses, additional doctors and nurses. So, iyon pa ang isang pag-uusapan and that’s where the national government as a council can provide good governance and transparency,” he added.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. approved on Tuesday the proposal of the DOH on create a coordinating council that will oversee the implementation of the UHC Act in the country.  

Herbosa said the council will serve as a national governance body that will oversee the implementation of Universal Health Care Act nationwide, the project and estimate total national cost and also its implementation at the local government level. It will serve as the venue to discuss relevant concerns that might be raised during the implementation of UHC.

DOH will serve as the council chair and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) will serve as the co-chair, according to Herbosa.

Herbosa said the council will be composed of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT); Department of Budget and Management (DBM); Department of Finance (DOF), Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and probably the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and Department of Education (DepEd). | PND

Photo Courtesy of PCO