Admission and treatment in all government-run hospitals in South Cotabato province will be free of charge starting on Monday, July 1.

This was announced on Friday by incoming Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo Jr., whose campaign promises include the free hospitalization program for all residents of the province.

“Starting Monday, we will make sure that no one will be queuing at the billing section of our hospitals because hospitalization will already be free in the province of South Cotabato,” he said in his inaugural speech at the South Cotabato Gymnasium and Cultural Center.

Tamayo took his oath as the province’s sixth elected provincial governor before Judge Lorenzo Balo of the Regional Trial Court Branch 44.

The official said the free hospitalization program will cover residents who seek treatment at the provincial hospital here and the local government-run hospitals in Norala, Surallah, Tupi, and Polomolok towns.

Tamaya recalled that during the campaign, his critics repeatedly slammed the planned free hospitalization program as it is supposedly not doable in terms of the financial requirement.

But he said he studied the operations of the province’s hospitals and found out that the proposal was doable, with proper management.

On the case of the provincial hospital, he said data show that about 8 percent of its income comes from the “pockets of the patients,” while 92 percent is sourced from PhilHealth insurance claims under the “No Balance Billing” program.

Tamayo said the provincial government can subsidize the 8% difference to make the hospitalization coverage fully free.

“This is not only for the indigents but for all residents. This is not impossible if we will really push for it,” he said.

Tamayo said they will complement the free hospitalization program with the upgrading of hospital facilities and the provision of all necessary medicines, supplies and equipment.

For the provincial hospital, currently classified by the Department of Health as a Level II facility, he said the provincial government will purchase at least 10 dialysis machines, two X-ray machines, and computerized tomography or CT scan unit.

He said the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) will also strengthen the “disease prevention” initiatives.

“The IPHO will focus on the barangays and ensure that the full range of services will be available to our residents, especially in terms of immunization,” he added. (PNA)