Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) decried Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) amounting to P1 billion of several specialty hospitals in the proposed 2022 national budget. The group’s public healthcare workers (HCW) members said this would deprive many patients, especially the poor, of basic medical services at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
AHW cited four major public hospitals which suffered MOOE cuts:
- Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC) – P891 Million
- Lung Center of the Philippines (LCP) – P100 Million
- Philippine Heart Center (PHC) – P28 Million
- National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) – P8 Million
“This government is inhumane and has no compassion for the health and lives of the people, especially the vagrants and destitute who cannot afford to pay heavily for their hospitalization,” said AHW National President Robert Mendoza.
Mendoza said that MOOE budget reduction was alarming as it would mean:
- No affordable and available medicines and medical supplies
- Insufficient payment for salaries of contractual health workers
- No budget for the Collective Negotiation Agreement (CNA) incentives to unionized health workers
- Patients will be expecting higher fees for laboratory procedures and room rates
AHW also hit the Department of Health (DOH) and President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration as the government has yet to allocate a single peso for HCWs COVID-19 benefits like Special Risk Allowance (SRA), Active Hazard Duty Pay (AHDP) and Meal, Accommodation and Transportation (MAT) allowance for next year. DOH Secretary Duque is relying on the passage of the third COVID-19 emergency response law—Bayanihan 3—to include these benefits.
Last August 11, LCP received over five units off-site modular hospital with a total of 108 beds from the national government. These modular units will cater to COVID-19 patients with moderate to severe cases other than patients with lung and chest diseases. A reduced budget would lessen the hospital’s ability to accommodate more patients despite increased bed capacity.
LCP Employees Association-Alliance of Health Workers (LCPEA-AHW) president Eleazar Sobinsky lamented that many hospitals also suffer ‘severe understaffing.’
“We are disgusted because as they add more COVID-19 facilities, they do not hire additional health workers to handle COVID-19 patients,” said Sobinsky.
AHW drafted a six-point appeal to the Senators, urging them to stand for the Filipino people and for the health workers’ safety, protection, rights, and welfare.
- Increase health budget to P2 trillion and allot this for direct public health service and for COVID-19 response
- Restore the P1 Billion MOOE budget cut of GOCC hospitals
- Abolish PhilHealth, realign P79.9B PhilHealth budget directly to all public hospitals and facilities
- Increase National Minimum Salary of Salary Grade 1 health workers to P16,000 per month at once and not in tranches
- Mass Hiring of Regular Health Workers
- All COVID-19 benefits should be appropriated in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) for 2022
- SRA P 5,000 x 12 months’ x 1.8M HCWs (P 108 billion)
- AHDP P 3000 x 12 X 1.8M HCWs (P 64.8 billion)
- MAT P 38,000 x 12x 1.8M HCWs (P 820.8 billion)
- Sickness & Death (est. based on 549.7M as of June, 2021) (P 1.1 billion)
- COVID-19 Compensation – P15,000 for mild to moderate case, P100,000 for severe case and P1 million for case of death