4 specialty hospitals face budget cuts

‘Somebody probably did not get the memo,’ said the solon, who believes that Malacañang vetting probably missed this fine print in the ‘3,842-page, three-volume’ proposed national budget

September 7, 2022

House Deputy Speaker Ralph Recto revealed on Tuesday that there are four specialty hospitals in Quezon City subject to budget cuts in next year’s P5.268 trillion proposed national budget.

The Batangas solon described the budget slashed to the Lung Center of the Philippines, the Philippine Heart Center, the National Kidney and Transplant Institute, and the Philippine Children’s Hospital as “all deep and non-superficial.”

Recto said those behind the budget cuts in the said hospitals may have slept through President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos’ State of the Nation Address, wherein he hailed the four as “worthy of replication in regional centers.”

“Somebody probably did not get the memo,” said the solon, who believes that Malacañang vetting probably missed this fine print in the “3,842-page, three-volume” proposed national budget.

The former senator noted that from P684 million in the 2022 General Appropriations Act, the proposed budgetary subsidy for the Lung Center of the Philippines will be trimmed by P53.7 million to P630.2 million.

The Philippine Heart Center, meanwhile, will be slashed by P121 million, from P1.88 billion in this year’s GAA to P1.76 billion in the 2023 National Expenditure Program, which serves as the draft national budget.

The National Kidney and Transplant Institute, however, is threatened with the deepest cut of P362 million — its subsidy down to P1.15 billion in the 2023 NEP from P1.5 billion in the 2022 GAA.

Also facing substantial subsidy reduction is the Philippine Children’s Medical Center, from P1.5 billion to P1.15 billion, or a P344 billion cutback.

However, Recto assured that if the past will be the guide, the recommended budgetary subsidies for the four hospitals in the proposed 2023 national budget will be restored by Congress.

“The yearly ritual is that those tasked to prepare the national budget will propose an amount lower than the current year’s, and then both chambers restore the cuts or even increase the subsidy,” Recto said.

Based on their charters, the four hospitals are classified as government corporations, and their appropriations in the national budget are officially called “budgetary support.”

Budgetary support forms part of a recipient agency’s annual operating budget and is subject to restrictions. It cannot be used for salaries which must be funded out of operating income.

Exemption, please

The solon further explained that the budget is a spreadsheet consisting of 150,000 lines of numbers and provisions.

Recto even proposed that the four hospitals be saved from budget cuts since these are all excellent health centers that the Filipinos have come to value, and not just because they are legacy institutions close to Marcos’ heart as they were among the projects of his late father, then President Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

“The Heart Center is an indispensable national necessity. It is a referral hospital. If you need to vulcanize your heart vein, this and PGH are the hospitals of last resort,” Recto said.

According to the solon, proponents of said budgetary support levels will probably justify their move by saying that previous augmentations done by Congress were for one-time equipment purchases and, therefore, not automatically rolled over to the next fiscal year.

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