The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) announced that it already released P500 million as partial payment to its debt to the Philippine Red Cross (PRC).
“[PhilHealth] will expedite processing of the remaining balance following strict compliance to government accounting rules and regulations,” the state health insurer said in a statement on Tuesday night.
It also made an assurance to pay the laboratories that were tasked to assist on the testing requirements of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) and other returning Filipinos, which were originally assigned to the PRC.
“PhilHealth also recognizes and assures the accredited laboratories conducting the current OFW RT-PCR tests that it will expedite the processing of its payments upon submission of complete documentary requirements,” the agency said.
PhiHealth President and Chief Executive Officer Dante Gierran said that the agency “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.
Last October 15, the PRC stopped conducting COVID-19 tests funded by PhilHealth due to the latter’s more than P930 million debt.
Currently, the COVID-19 testing samples that were supposed to be processed by the PRC are being given to eight licensed laboratories. These are: Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital (TALA), Las Piñas General Hospital and Satellite Trauma Center, Lung Center of the Philippines, PNP Crime Laboratory, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, San Lazaro Hospital; Ospital ng Imus, and Jose B. Lingad Memorial Regional Hospital.
In a press briefing last October 22, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that the government’s testing capacity has been affected because of this issue.
“We cannot deny that the Philippine Red Cross has made a significant contribution to our daily outputs or the outputs for our laboratories…Yes, we were affected by the stopping of the operations of the Philippine Red Cross,” she then said.