Vince Dizon, the deputy chief implementer of the Philippines’ COVID-19 action plan, said Friday that the COVID-19 testing output is expected to decrease after the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) stopped conducting tests funded by the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) due to the state insurer’s “ever-increasing outstanding balance.”
“Napakalaking bagay ang paghinto ng Red Cross. So, aasahan natin na bababa ang testing output natin dahil sa pagsara ng Red Cross dito sa mga araw na ito hangga’t hindi masettle ‘yung issue sa PhilHealth,” Dizon said Friday.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, meanwhile, said the government is discussing the issue with the PRC.
“Lahat naman ito pinag-uusapan na, alam natin na meron tayong konting operational difficulties and challenges kaya inaayos na po natin ‘yan,” she said.
“Hopefully, in the coming days, we can resolve this,” she added.
The DOH official said authorities have also been discussing a “shift” in focus.
“It’s not always to test, naka-base po yan sa omnibus guidelines natin that the physicians or the doctors will be assessing clinically kung kailangang i-test o hindi yung mga returning OFWs, basta ang dapat sigurado, they will be quarantined for 14 days,” she explained.
Red Cross halts PhilHealth-funded tests
Starting October 15, Red Cross would no longer process COVID-19 tests of those listed in the Department of Health’s expanded testing guidelines (DOH) per its memorandum no. 2020-0258-A, including overseas Filipino workers, individuals through the mega swabbing facilities and local government units, frontline health and government workers, and those arriving in airports and seaports.
According to Philippine Red Cross, PhilHealth needs to pay its overdue balance of P930,993,000 before they resume their service.
“The PRC entered into an agreement with PhilHealth for the latter to reimburse the PRC for these priority tests requested by various government agencies,” it said.
“Unfortunately, PhilHealth failed to meet its obligations. As a result, the PRC’s total billings to PhilHealth stand at P1,014,975,500.00 as of October 13, 2020. Of this amount, P930,993,000.00 represents overdue amounts.”
PRC revealed PhilHealth’s last payment to PRC was made on September 8, but “not a single centavo has been paid since then.”