Incoming Health chief vows to review nurses' salary hike

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 21 2016 06:36 PM

Hope is not lost despite the presidential veto of the proposed increase in the salary of health workers, as incoming Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial vows to review the proposal.

“We will review it again. Of course, we were part of the team that actually supported its passage in Congress and in Senate but [we will be] looking at the data that the president might have, and reviewing it again," Ubial told ANC’s Market Edge on Tuesday.

"But suffice to say, the bottom line is for the DOH will support salary increases, not just for nurses but all health professionals,” she added.

President Benigno S. Aquino III vetoed the consolidated House Bill No. 6411 and Senate Bill No. 2720 which seeks the enactment of a comprehensive nursing law.

He noted that the minimum annual base pay for entry-level nurses had already been increased from P228,924 to P344,074 by Executive Order 201.

Aquino said further raising their salaries will undermine the existing government salary structure and cause wage distortion.

But as the new administration rolls in, Ubial said they are also mulling to pay differentials depending on the number of patients served or the level of difficulty of duties involved.

“We’d like to also match that for pay-for-service, like if they service more Filipinos, or the ratio is greater, like more than 1:12 for nurses, then they should get higher pay," she said.

"We’re thinking of difficult assignment pay, like if they’re assigned in geographically isolated, disadvantaged areas or conflict areas, they should have a difficult assignment pay add-on," she added.

REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH, UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE

Meanwhile, Ubial is also eyeing a more thorough implementation of the reproductive health law, and said plans are underway to resubmit the 2017 budget to make room for it.

“I think our priority would be to serve that 20% with that unmet need to ensure that our women have the capacity, the knowledge, and ability to space pregnancies and to limit pregnancies, so that they can actively participate in economic activities, and also help the family in improving their situation,” she said.

Under her watch, the Department of Health (DOH) will also promote universal health through PhilHealth by modernizing, expanding, and streamlining processes.

“It will be socialized. It will be no balanced billing for poorest, and hopefully we’ll have higher utilization and availment for the poorest Filipinos,” she said.

She said they are targeting a 70:30 ratio between the public and private facilities, and a 60:40 ratio between the curative, rehabilitative care, and the public health.

“It’s just a rough figure, but we’ll try to balance all these and see how we can improve health financing in this country,” she said.

Ubial also revealed that they are in exploratory talks with the private sector for public-private partnership projects in the health sector, especially in medical tourism.

“We’re beefing up our program for travel medicine. So that would include the migrants’ health, that would include retirement homes here, and medical tourism, and also, health of the refugees,” she said.

“We see that investments will come in for example, for retirement homes, for geriatric homes, hospice care, and our nurses who used to be going abroad for these types of services will be retained here in the country," she said.