RA 11228: A gift for PWDs

Sun.Star Pampanga - - TOPSTORIES! -

The road to uni­ver­sal health care in the Philip­pines seems to be in full swing after Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte signed the uni­ver­sal health care (UHC) law or Repub­lic Act No 11223 last Fe­bru­ary 20. The said mea­sure seeks to en­sure that all Filipinos are “guar­an­teed eq­ui­table ac­cess to qual­ity and af­ford­able health goods and ser­vices and pro­tec­tion against fi­nan­cial risks.”

The UHC law man­dates that all Filipinos will be en­rolled un­der the Na­tional Health In­sur­ance Pro­gram (NHIP) and shall be en­ti­tled to a full spec­trum of health care, which in­cludes pre­ven­tive, pro­mo­tive, cu­ra­tive, re­ha­bil­i­ta­tive, and pal­lia­tive care for med­i­cal, den­tal, men­tal, and emer­gency health ser­vices.

As the prin­ci­pal au­thor of the Sen­ate ver­sion of the mea­sure, Se­na­tor JV Eje­crito also said the UHC law ex­pands PhilHealth coverage to in­clude free med­i­cal check­ups, lab­o­ra­tory tests, and other di­ag­nos­tic ser­vices.

While the UHC law en­com­passes all Filipinos, the ser­vices and med­i­cal re­quire­ments of with dis­abil­i­ties and spe­cial needs are not cov­ered by the UHC law. Thus, RA 11228 signed by the Pres­i­dent re­cently now also en­sures the manda­tory PhilHealth coverage of per­sons with dis­abil­i­ties ( PWDs) .

RA 11228 amends the Sec­tion 20-A of RA 7277 or the Magna Carta for Per­sons with Dis­abil­ity. More im­por­tantly, un­der the new law, the PhilHealth shall also de­velop ex­clu­sive pack­ages for PWDs that will ad­dress their spe­cific health and de­vel­op­ment needs.

While the im­ple­ment­ing rules and reg­u­la­tions of this law have yet to be crafted by cer­tain agen­cies such as DOH, PhilHealth, and the Na­tional Coun­cil for Dis­abil­ity Af­fairs, RA 11228 is cer­tainly a pre­cious gift to all PWDs, their fam­i­lies, and even guardians.

Based on the dif­fer­ent types of dis­abil­ity, whether its, phys­i­cal, men­tal or psy­cho­log­i­cal, PWDs are now given the as­sur­ance that the ser­vices and in­ter­ven­tions they need will now be more ac­ces­si­ble to them.

For ex­am­ple, peo­ple with autism es­pe­cially chil­dren on the spec­trum de­pend­ing on the sever­ity of their autism need oc­cu­pa­tional ther­apy, be­ha­vo­rial ther­apy, speech ther­apy, one-on-one learn­ing ses­sions, and the like. These ser­vices are now quite costly, and an av­er­age in­come fam­ily cer­tainly can­not af­ford to pro­vide these to their child with autism.

At the same time, par­ents of chil­dren with autism like me are also faced with ex­pen­sive cost of hav­ing their chil­dren as­sessed by de­vel­op­ment pe­di­a­tri­cians and be­hav­ior spe­cial­ists. It would be of great help and re­lief for us to have these ser­vices also cov­ered in full, or in a cer­tain per­cent­age what­ever the law may per­mit.

Above all, the en­act­ment of RA 11228 is in­deed a great bless­ing to all PWDs. It does not only give them equal­ity and eq­uity to med­i­cal ser­vices and in­ter­ven­tions, but it also gives the as­sur­ance that the gov­ern­ment highly pri­or­i­tizes their in­clu­sion and ac­cep­tance in the so­ci­ety.

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