House approves bill regulating hospitals

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Monday, March 17, 2014

THE House of Representatives recently passed on third and final reading a proposed bill, which is expected to strengthen the regulation of hospitals, other health facilities and services in the entire country.

Committee on health chairman Eufranio Eiriguel said House Bill 4000 would address the increasing cost of health services and regulate the licensing of health facilities.

"Health care must not only be accessible to the people, it must also be affordable to everyone especially to the lowest income group," the La Union lawmaker said.


The bill also seeks to repeal Republic Act 4226, or the Hospital Licensure Act, and will create the Bureau of Health Facilities and Services (BHFS) under the Department of Health, which will act as the regulatory agency for the regulation and licensing of health facilities and services in the country.

Quezon Province Representative Angelina Tan added the measure is expected to expand and strengthen the regulation of health facilities in order to ensure the safety and quality of the health care facilities.

Tan said the dramatic changes and improvement in the field of health care during the past decades have led to the emergence and development of new types of health care facilities.

"We can see new types of health facilities such as diagnostic and rehabilitative centers unlike before when there were only hospitals and clinics. A number of different types of facilities do not anymore qualify under the regulatory mandate of the Department of Health," Tan said.

The bill stated that "all public and private health facilities or related facilities which provide diagnostic, therapeutic, rehabilitative, and other health care services shall be registered and duly licensed by the BHFS before they are allowed to operate."

The authors explained that the initial license to operate and maintain a health facility shall be valid for a period of two years from its date of issuance, and shall be renewed regularly, subject to the rules and regulations to be issued by the BHFS.

They noted that license to operate and maintain a health facility or other related facilities shall be issued by the BHFS only after it has conducted a comprehensive on-site inspection and has certified that the applicant has satisfactorily complied with the requisites prescribed.

The bill said that the "license is non-transferrable" and separate licenses shall be required for health facilities or other related facilities or branches maintained in separate premises even though they are operated under the same management.

The measure also mandates the BHFS to approve plans and issue permits or give authority to construct renovate or expand health facilities and other related facilities.

The BHFS shall also determine, levy, assess and collect appropriate permit fees, registration fees, license fees and surcharges pertinent to the operation of health facilities.

To carry out its task more effectively, the BHFS shall be vested with quasi-judicial powers to investigate, head and decide administrative cases initiated by the BHFS or filed by any person against a hospital or health service establishment.

Any person, partnership, association, or corporation that establishes, operates, conducts, manages or maintains a health facility or other related facility without license faces a fine ranging from P100,000 to P1 million.

In addition to the penalties specified, the BHFS may order the closure of any health facility or other related facility found operating without a license. (Sunnex)

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