Red Cross COVID-19 tests in peril due to PhilHealth’s failure to pay debts

Senator Richard Gordon said the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) is likely to suspend its COVID-19 testing program if the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) fails to settle its liabilities to the organization.

Senator Richard Gordon
(Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Gordon, president and CEO of PRC, said PhilHealth has yet to pay its remaining balances to the country’s foremost humanitarian organization, saying its debts to PRC total nearly P1 billion.

The senator said the Red Cross might discontinue its COVID-19 testing to those whose payments would be charged to PhilHealth until the agency settles its balances.

“Aabot na sa isang bilyon ang utang ng PhilHealth sa Red Cross. Pagkatapos nilang magbigay ng advance payment na P100-million noon, paunti-unti na lang ang pagbabayad nila (PhilHealth’s debt with Red Cross is nearly P1 billion. After giving an advance payment of P100-million before, they are now paying us little by little),” Gordon said in a radio interview.

He said PhilHealth’s non-payment of P700.5-million will prevent the Red Cross from being able to order its needed test kits to replenish dwindling supply.

If this continues, Gordon said the PRC would be forced to stop its operations in its testing center in Manila.

“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, (We can’t accept that because we also need the money to purchase additional materials for testing and to pay staff. If they can’t pay on Monday, then we will suspend the testing),” he said.

He also said the PRC will not be able to open its newly built laboratories in Bacolod, Zamboanga and Cagayan de Oro City.

“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?” he pointed out.

“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 added.

According to Gordon, he has continuously been calling PhilHealth’s attention to act on the matter.

The senator, nevertheless, clarified that the PRC will still accommodate walk-in individuals who would want to get tested but only for those who will pay for their swab tests.

“These delays and foot dragging by PhilHealth have been going on from day one of the contract,” he lamented.

“We sincerely hope for our people's sake that the government will see its way clear in resolving this unwanted crisis immediately,” Gordon stressed.