RA 11228: A gift for PWDs
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.