MANILA, Oct. 6, 2011—Brace for higher taxes, more expensive healthcare premiums.
This scenario was raised by Sen. Ralph G. Recto on Wednesday, citing provisions in the controversial “reproductive health” (RH) bill that would require billions in taxpayers’ money.
Interpellating one of the Senate sponsors, Sen. Pia Cayetano, Recto pointed to Sections 9 and 10 of Senate Bill 2865, concerning state subsidies for contraceptives.
Section 9, which declares family planning supplies as “essential medicines,” requires that hormonal contraceptives, intrauterine devices, and injectables, among others, “be included in the regular purchase of essential medicines and supplies of all national and local hospitals, provincial, city, and municipal health offices, including rural health units.”
Meanwhile, Section 10 mandates the Department of Health (DoH) to lead in the procurement and distribution of family planning supplies for the whole country.
The section prescribes a formula for determining budget allotments: “(a) the number of women of reproductive age and couples who want to space or limit their children; (b) contraceptive prevalence rate, by type of method used; and (c) cost of family planning supplies.”
Reading the two sections together, Recto said the bill would require the government to pay for the contraceptives of as much as 44 million people.
On Tuesday, Cayetano admitted that the DoH had sought P13.7 billion in funding for the RH bill for 2012 alone. On Wednesday, Cayetano said P7.5 billion would be needed yearly to pay for 22,000 nurses and 4,500 midwives.
Such huge funding requirement would take away resources needed to combat the leading causes of deaths in the country, which are heart disease, cardiovascular disease, pneumonia, tuberculosis, respiratory diseases, and diabetes, Recto argued.
“Are you going take it from these? It’s a zero sum game, unless you ask people to contribute more payroll tax or through PhilHealth,” he said.
Recto added: “We’re promising too much and you can’t deliver … And is this the best way to help the poor?”
Cayetano offered to delete Section 10. (Dominic Francisco)