Palace: Health budget increase to benefit PH’s poorest

The Health department gets the biggest budget increase of 45.5% in the proposed national budget for 2014

MANILA, Philippines – If the proposed 2014 budget will be approved, the Department of Health (DOH) will get a 45.5% budget boost – the highest increase among all agencies, the Palace said.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is seeking to give the health sector around P87.1 billion as part of the Aquino government’s efforts to attain universal health care coverage.

The amount includes the P35.3-billion allocation for health insurance premiums of at least 14.7 million indigent families.

In a radio interview on Sunday, July 14, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in English and Filipino: “We’re targeting more indigents to be included in the fifth quintile or those whom we call the poorest of the poor. Every year we add more families to that list.”

Expanding health care coverage

About 85% of the total population is now covered by state-run health insurance firm PhilHealth, according to Valte. The 2014 budget seeks to expand the health care coverage.

“If it will be approved, more people will be included in the list of beneficiaries who will be receiving 100% help under PhilHealth,” Valte said.

The health budget also covers the requirements for the improvement of health facilities in specialized hospitals, barangay health stations, and rural health units – about P18 billion.

According to the World Health Organization, the Philippines ranks 42nd in the list of countries with significantly improved health care financing geared toward universal coverage.

Budget for education, social welfare

The 2014 national budget of P2.268 trillion, which is 13% or P262 billion higher than the 2013 budget of P2.006 trillion, also significantly raises allocations for education and social welfare.

READ: Palace finalizes P2.268-T budget proposal for 2014

“By committing substantial budget support to our banner social programs, we can address existing gaps in the country’s education and health system, as well as enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of our major anti-poverty initiatives,” Budget secretary Florencio Abad said in a statement.

The Department of Education remains a top priority in the Aquino government’s budget agenda, getting a hefty share of P336.9 billion, up by 15%.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development is poised to receive a 40% budget increase or a total of P78.9 billion to finance its programs.

The budget includes allocations for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, the government’s flagship poverty alleviation program. The program seeks to include an additional 10 million children until they graduate from high school and an additional 157,630 households.

“Our focus is to optimize these reform initiatives and the successes we’ve tracked so far—particularly in fiscal management — to make growth more far-ranging and inclusive for Filipinos,” Abad said.

President Benigno Aquino III will submit the proposed budget to Congress after his State of the Nation Address on July 22. – Rappler.com