The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved on final reading a proposal mandating all local government units (LGUs) to earmark at least 15 percent of their annual national tax allotment share for health services.
With 224 affirmative votes, 0 negative votes, and no abstention, the chamber passed House Bill 10392, which seeks to amend Section 287 of the Local Government Code of 1991 to ensure the appropriation of at least 15 percent of the share of LGUs from all national taxes or revenues for health services.
The bill provides that copies of the health programs, including the provision of free medicines for indigent patients of local government units, shall be furnished to the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Department of Health (DOH).
Health programs of LGUs shall be approved by the local health boards in accordance with the standards and criteria set by the DOH pursuant to pertinent provisions of Republic Act 11223, otherwise known as the Universal Health Care Act.
Upon the approval of the bill, House health committee chair Angelina Tan said along with local development initiatives, the provision of quality, accessible, and relevant health services is enormously important, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
She explained that with the proposed law, LGUs must undertake necessary action to prepare for the greater role and responsibilities of providing health services that they are expected to assume in the context of the Mandanas-Garcia ruling.
The proposed appropriation shall be on top of whatever is allotted for health services under the existing development projects as provided under the LGC and the Special Health Fund (SHF), a component of the Universal Health Care Act (UHC).
“The pandemic has underscored the important lesson that LGUs must be at the front lines of UHC implementation and every local chief executive must recognize that health is a strategic concern that must be immediately and adequately addressed because it is a prerequisite to social development,” Tan said.
Tan said the proposal is grounded on the fundamental policies outlined under Republic Act No. 11223 or the UHC law, which adopts an integrated and comprehensive approach to ensure that all Filipinos are health literate, provided with healthy living conditions, and protected from hazards and risks that could affect their health.