THE DEPARTMENT of Health (DoH) on Monday said it was proposing a P182.1-billion budget for 2021 as it starts enforcing the Universal Healthcare law.

Of the total, P53.2 billion will be used to fund programs related to universal healthcare, while P20.89 will be allotted to boost the country’s response to emerging infectious diseases, Health Undersecretary Mario C. Villaverde told lawmakers on Monday.

“These are interrelated, and most of the provisions of the Universal Healthcare law can also be adopted in terms of our response to emerging infectious diseases,” he said.

Mr. Villaverde was presenting to the joint oversight committee tackling the law enacted in February 2019 to give Filipinos access to free essential health services.

He said P35.1 billion will fund programs under other health-related laws such as on cancer care and HIV/AIDs prevention and control.

Under the 2020 national budget, the Health department got a budget of P101 billion.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) in early June set a proposed P4.335-trillion cash-based national budget for 2021, up from P4.1-trillion in 2020.

Meanwhile, Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) President Ricardo C. Morales proposed that a higher subsidy of P138 billion be given to the agency for 2021.

The agency’s original subsidy proposal was P153 billion. It received P71.2 billion this year, he told the same hearing. “This was not enough to fund the premium of all indirect contributors, thus affecting PhilHealth’s capacity to cover all benefits.”

He also said the agency was expected to have a deficit by year-end due to lower collections caused by the pandemic and additional benefit payouts worth about P40.7 billion.

“We will be running a deficit by the end of 2020 and we will be maintaining that deficit until 2024,” he said. — Charmaine A. Tadalan