PRC most likely to suspend COVID-19 testing due to PhilHealth’s debt
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) will “most likely” suspend its COVID-19 testing due to the failure of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) to pay its remaining balances to the humanitarian organization’s coronavirus testing services.
Senator Richard Gordon, PRC chairman and CEO, said the organization will discontinue conducting COVID-19 tests to those whose payments will be charged to PhilHealth until the state health insurance firm settles its balances of around P700.5 million.
“Aabot na sa isang bilyon ang utang ng PhilHealth sa Red Cross. Pagkatapos nilang magbigay ng advanced payment na P100 million noon, paunti-unti na lang ang pagbabayad nila,” Gordon said in a radio interview.
“Hindi naman pupuwedeng ganoon dahil kailangan din namin ng pambili ng materials para sa testing at pambayad sa mga tao. Kung hindi sila makapagbabayad hanggang Monday, ititigil muna namin ang testing,” he added.
The senator explained that PhilHealth’s non-payment of P700.5 million will prevent the Red Cross from ordering the needed test kits to replenish its dwindling supply, thus, forcing the PRC to stop its operations in its testing center in Manila.
The PRC will also not be able to open its newly-built laboratories in Bacolod, Zamboanga and Cagayan de Oro City, he noted.
“How can we operate if we do not have enough test kits and we do not have money to pay our med techs and other staff? We have been totally cooperative in all aspects but we cannot afford to continue if the government, particularly PhilHealth, continues to fail to pay for their lawful obligations,” he said.
According to Gordon, he already reached out to concerned government officials and has been continuously calling the PhilHealth’s attention to immediately act on the matter.
Nonetheless, the PRC will still accommodate walk-in individuals who would want to get tested and who will pay for their swab tests.
“These delays and foot dragging by PhilHealth have been going on from day one of the contract. We sincerely hope for our people’s sake that the government will see its way clear in resolving this unwanted crisis immediately,” he said.
PhilHealth is currently under fire following claims of massive corruption within the agency.
President Duterte recently ordered the creation of an inter-agency task force to probe PhilHealth officials over corruption claims which were unearthed during a Senate inquiry.
Among allegations of corruption raised involve the procurement of alleged overpriced IT equipment; a supposedly questionable release of funds under the corporation’s Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM); and the alleged manipulation of the corporation’s financial status.
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