Hiring of Pinoy nurses not about Obamacare: DOH

By David Dizon, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Nov 05 2012 12:34 PM | Updated as of Nov 06 2012 04:44 AM

MANILA, Philippines – The health care programs of US President Barack Obama or his challenger, Republican bet Mitt Romney, will not determine the opening of more jobs for Filipino health workers, Health Secretary Enrique Ona said Monday.

Instead, it is the US economy that will guide the American government if it will hire more foreign health workers in the future.

“It's not so much about ObamaCare or RomneyCare. What is important is nakikita natin na nag-i-improve na ang ekonomiya ng Amerika although it is not yet a big sense gusto nating mapabilis,” Ona said in a radio dzMM interview.

“It’s really more of the economic status of America. It's more of the people who need special care. Ang age level ng Amerikano compared to us, they are a graying population. Marami nang tumatanda sa kanila. They need more intensive care dahil sa edad. Mas nangangailangan ng health workers, nurses and rehab,” he added.

Ona said a victory for Romney could mean a major overhaul of ObamaCare, which seeks to provide affordable health insurance for all US citizens. According to the Mitt Romney Central website, RomneyCare’s primary goal was to provide all citizens in Massachusetts with access to affordable health insurance and to eliminate the “free riders” who expected the government or taxpayers to pay for their health care.

Ona said the US government cut down on the hiring of healthcare providers, particularly nurses, in the past 3 years due to the failing economy. He said the US government tried to attract Americans to go into nursing and other health care services.

The health chief also noted that for the past 6 months, the US economy has stabilized and even improved slightly. This means that the possibility of hiring more health workers, including Filipino nurses, could restart soon.

Ona revealed the economic crisis in Europe has affected job openings for health workers there despite the continued shortage of health workers. He said health ministers in Denmark and Sweden told him there are job openings for Filipino nurses in their respective countries.

One challenge faced by “excess” Filipino nurses in the country is how to get more experience, which is a requirement for employment. Ona said the health department is looking into filling up its own need for health workers.

He said that by 2013, the Department of Health will implement its plan to improve government-owned health facilities and district hospitals.