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Senator Loren Legarda today said that the 2017 national budget will provide healthcare assistance to all Filipinos. Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, said that additional P3 billion was allocated to the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to ensure coverage for all Filipinos.

"The Department of Health (DOH) said there are some eight million Filipinos still not covered by PhilHealth. It is our duty, in serving the public, to extend basic healthcare protection to all our people. That is why we pushed for the augmentation of the PhilHealth's budget so that in 2017 we achieve universal healthcare coverage," said Legarda. The Senator explained that universal healthcare coverage means that any non-member of PhilHealth will automatically be made a member upon availment of healthcare service in a public hospital. Moreover, indigent patients will not pay for anything in government hospitals under the No Balance Billing (NBB) as mandated under the Amended National Health Insurance Act (Republic Act 10606), which Legarda principally authored. Apart from the Philhealth subsidy, the 2017 national budget will also allocate a total of P96.336 billion for DOH, which includes funds for the construction of additional health facilities and drug rehabilitation centers. The amount is also inclusive of the P800 million funding for the Doctors to the Barrio program, which aims to provide equitable healthcare services to all areas of the country through the deployment of competent and dedicated physicians to serve the doctorless municipalities.

"The health of our people deserves to be on top of the priorities of government. What is crucial now is to make these healthcare benefits known by the poorest households who are the intended beneficiaries," Legarda concluded. The proposed 2017 General Appropriations Act (GAA) worth P3.350 trillion has been approved by both the Senate and House of Representatives and is expected to be signed by the President before Christmas.

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