THE Philippine Red Cross will resume accepting COVID tests chargeable to the Philippine Health Insurance Company (PhilHealth) after the government health insurer settled P500 million of its more than P1-billion debt to the PRC Tuesday afternoon.
Senator Richard J. Gordon, PRC chairman and CEO, said he already issued instructions for operations to resume at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport starting Tuesday night and for the local government units and others to start resuming yesterday.
PhilHealth’s debt to the PRC reached more than P1 billion over the unpaid COVID-19 tests that were chargeable to the state health insurer. PRC temporarily suspended accommodating PhilHealth-covered COVID-19 tests since October 14 because of the debt issue.
Gordon said PhilHealth should immediately settle its outstanding balance, adding that after the debt had been settled, PhilHealth should strictly comply with the agreement which provides that the health insurer should top up the P100-million advance payment once P70 million has been used.
“Kung susunod dun sa provisions ng Memorandum of Agreement, hindi aabot ng ganyan kalaki ang utang nila sa Red Cross. Hindi naman pwedeng lagi na lang muna kaming magpapaluwal kasi wala din kaming pambibili ng mga test kits, reagents at iba pang kakailanganin sa pag-test,” he said, adding that the still unsettled half-a-billion debt is equivalent to unpaid 160,475 COVID tests.
Gordon also called on the PhilHealth to comply with another provision of the MOA which calls for it to send a representative to the PRC.
“Hanggang ngayon hindi sila nagpapadala ng representative para mag-check ‘yung mga tinatanggap namin. Although kumpleto naman bill of particulars na pinapadala namin sa kanila, may details ng bawat nagpapa-swab dun sa CIF, may line list din, etc, pero iba pa din na may representative sila,” he said.
When asked to comment on reports that PhilHealth wants some amendments to the contract, Gordon said the exact provisions in question should be cited so they can discuss the matter.
In a related development, Sec. Vivencio Dizon, testing czar and Deputy Chief Implementer, National Action Plan against COVID-19, said they already gave instructions for the resumption of PRC’s testing on overseas Filipino workers arriving at the NAIA.
For his part, Atty. Dante A. Gierran, PhiHealth President and CEO, said that they will expedite processing of the remaining balance following strict compliance with government accounting rules and regulations.
“PhilHealth takes exception to the insinuation that it is reckless and is playing on people’s lives. Its prudence in taking charge of its members’ hard-earned contributions is central to the state health insurer. Its exercise of judiciousness is to protect the people and their funds,” he said.
Gierran also assured accredited laboratories conducting the current OFW RT-PCR tests that it will expedite the processing of its payments upon submission of complete documentary requirements.