The responsibility of providing health and social welfare services should be re-centralized and reverted to the national government due to rising health care costs that many local government units (LGUs) cannot afford, Representative Magnolia Rosa Antonino-Nadres said.
Antonino-Nadres of the National Unity Party (NUP) noted that many low-income LGUs have been persistently clamoring for the reversion of their devolved functions and responsibilities, specifically health care and social welfare services, to the national government more than two decades after Republic Act 7160 was passed into law.
RA 7160, or the Local Government Code of 1991, devolves health and social welfare services to the LGUs as part of the law’s goal to promote local autonomy.
To re-nationalize the provision of health care and social welfare assistance, Antonino-Nadres filed House Bill 3759, which seeks to repeal or amend several portions of RA 7160 pertaining to these services.
"The sorry state of health and social welfare services in many LGUs throughout the country has endangered the lives of countless Filipinos particularly those in the far-flung areas," she added.
The lawmaker said several experts in local governance share the view that for the decentralization policy to succeed, the devolution of powers to LGUs must be accompanied by financial support from the national government.
However, Antonino-Nadres said it now appears that the 40 percent share of LGUs from national internal revenue taxes is not enough to shoulder the cost of devolved functions and responsibilities, particularly for 5th- and 6th-class cities and municipalities," said Antonino-Nadres.
“The inability of many LGUs to give sufficient funding to devolved hospitals has caused untoward sufferings to our poor patients," said Antonino-Nadres who is also a vice chairperson of the House committees on poverty alleviation.
Her bill also provides that all references in the other provisions of RA 7160 to “local health boards” be changed to “local sanggunian.”