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July 28, 2009

Public Hearing On User Fee Ordinance

This morning, the first step to a historic piece of legislation for Candoni took place, when more than a hundred local folks gathered at the Public Plaza to attend the Public Hearing. The Public Hearing was for the proposed User Fee Ordinance. Barangay captains and officials were present, including teachers and school heads, barangay health workers, department heads and ordinary folks. Our Community Health Allies and Reform Team president was also present. Even our Acting Mayor and Acting Vice-Mayor were present. It was an opportunity to inform the community about the User Fee. Of course, I was invited again as one of the resource speakers to shed light on the value of User Fee.

It was a productive open forum because it allowed ordinary folks to clarify certain issues, especially on the manner of identifying the legitimate indigents in the community. According to the User Fee Ordinance, patients seeking medical attention at the Main Health Center will be categorized. Category A are those patients who are not philhealth members and are professionals/employed. Category B are those patients who are government employees or philhealth members (individually paying members). Category C are those who are indigents, regardless whether they are philhealth enrolled or not.

Category A patients will be paying in full some selected medical services, e.g. Wound suturing. Category B patients will be paying only 75% of the fee. Category C will have 100% discount and will not pay a single centavo. Either the LGU, through MSWD, or Philhealth, through the OPB package, will pay for them. We are by the way Philhealth accredited (OPB and TBDOTS).

It is important therefore to identify the genuine indigents. Thus, the concern actually was not the high cost of the user fee (which is actually cheaper than the fees paid in government hospitals and other municipalities implementing user fee). but on how indigents will be selected in order to be exempted from the fee. Fortunately, the MSWD officer and her staff were present to clarify the matter especially with the Barangay captains. Of course, with the Health center accredited by Philhealth and with the presence of the User Fee, I encouraged the LGU to enroll more indigents to Philhealth. Currently, there are around 560 families enrolled by the LGU alone (from 0 in 2007). This does not include those enrolled by Congressman Alvarez and the Governor of the Province. Based on records, there are more than 1,500 indigent families enrolled already. A big jump from almost nothing in 2007.

I was happy that most people in attendance were receptive of the User Fee. In fact, it has its full support from the Acting Mayor, who was then Vice Mayor during the passing of the User Fee Ordinance. Mayor Cicero Borromeo was also in full support of the proposal as reflected in one of our Local health board meetings.

I do hope this will augment the meager funds of our RHU and ensure the sustainability of the medical services it offers to the people of Candoni.

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