The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) has assured that it has the money and will pay what it owes the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) for conducting tests for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“Babayaran talaga ng PhilHealth yan (PhilHealth will pay what it owes PRC). We have money for that,” PhilHealth President and Chief Executive Officer Dante Gierran said during an interview with CNN Philippines on Friday.
“We recognize the help and support of the PRC,” he added.
Gierran made this assurance after the PRC decided to stop COVID-19 testing due to the unpaid P930 million the PhilHealth owed it for the tests that were conducted.
He said he and other PhilHealth officials have already begun talks with PRC chairman Sen. Richard Gordon and other PRC officials concerning the payment of the debts.
However, Gierran said the amount that PhilHealth will have to pay will be reduced since the costs of COVID-19 test kits have already dropped to P3,409 from P3,500.
Gierran said he is also waiting for the legal opinion of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) over the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that the previous PhilHealth management had with the PRC for the conduct of COVID-19 tests.
He pointed out that the MOA should follow Republic Act 9184, the Government Procurement Reform Act.
Gierran said PRC was picked under emergency procurement bidding instead of undergoing the required competitive public bidding under the law.
“In regular procurement, what is required is competitive bidding which should rather be relaxed under the emergency procurement bidding. But then, even if it is relaxed, there are still requirements to be done,” he said.
Gierran said his legal team found that the MOA did not follow the procurement law due to the absence of publication at the Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB) and at the PhilHealth website.
Regardless of whether the DBM will have a negative legal position, Gierran reiterated that PhilHealth will pay its debt to PRC.
In a statement on Thursday, the state health insurer said it is now in close coordination with the PRC to “thresh out issues pertaining to the said partnership so the PRC can immediately resume accommodating RT-PCR tests for priority sectors that will be paid for by PhilHealth.”
The PRC had earlier announced that it would no longer receive specimens for testing that are funded by Philhealth, particularly returning overseas Filipino workers, those arriving in airports and seaports, those in mega swabbing facilities through local government units, and others included in the expanded testing guidelines of the Department of Health.