House approves bill that bans privatization of public hospitals

Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 01 2018 02:03 AM

Mothers and their newborn babies share beds at the Fabella hospital. Romeo Ranoco, Reuters/file photo

MANILA - A measure that prohibits the privatization and corporatization of public hospitals, public health facilities, and health services got the approval Tuesday of the House of Representatives on its third and final reading.

Some 218 lawmakers voted in favor of passing House Bill 7437, with no negative vote and zero abstention.

Under the bill, at least 90 percent of the total bed capacity of all public hospitals shall be allotted for poor patients.

Any person who initiates, causes, or approves the privatization of any public hospital, public health facility, or public health services shall be penalized with a fine of P100,000 to P200,000 and a suspension of 1 to 2 years from public office for the first offense.

A third-time offender shall face a fine of P500,000 to P800,000, removal from public office, and perpetual disqualification from holding any public position.

BAYAN MUNA party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, who is one of the principal authors of the bill, welcomed its approval on third reading.

"We hope that this will stop the continued efforts to privatize the Orthopedic, Fabella Hospital, and even mental hospital among others," he said in a statement.

Zarate said he is hopeful the bill will be enacted into law before the year ends.

"This bill is a major step to address the inaccessibility and inequity in health care made worse by privatization of public health services," he added.