All government-run hospitals in South Cotabato province will begin offering free admission and treatment starting Monday, July 1.
According to incoming Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo Jr., the free hospitalization program will cover South Cotabato residents seeking treatment in the provincial hospital and in the local government-run hospitals in Norala, Surallah, Tupi, and Polomolok towns.
Tamayo’s campaign included the promise of free hospitalization for all residents of the province. He was heavily criticized by his opponents in the gubernatorial race for the program being not doable or impossible given the financial requirements.
However, it seems the program was feasible after all.
“Starting Monday, we will make sure that no one will be queuing at the billing section of our hospitals because hospitalization will already be free in the province of South Cotabato,” Tamayo said in his inaugural speech at the South Cotabato Gymnasium and Cultural Center. Tamayo took his oath as the sixth elected provincial governotr of South Cotabato before Judge Lorenzo Balo of the Regional Trial Court Branch 44.
Tamayo explained that the program did not actually need much additional funding. He studied the operations of the province’s hospitals and found that a majority of their income came from PhilHealth insurance claims under the “No Balance Billing” program.
For example, the provincial hospital had an income division of 92 percent coming from PhilHealth and only 8 percent coming from the “pockets of patients”. Tamayo said that the provincial government can subsidize the 8 percent difference to make hospitalization coverage fully free for residents.
Tamayo also stressed that all residents can avail of the program, not just indigents.
The free hospitalization program will also be paired with an upgrading of hospital facilities and the provision of all neccessary medicines, supplies and equipment. The Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) will also work to strengthen “disease prevention” initiatives like immunization drives.
The provincial hospital, currently classified by the Department of Health as a Level II facility, is set to purchase at least 10 dialysis machines, two X-ray machines, and a computerized tomography or CT scan unit.