State to issue order regulating price of COVID tests

Published October 29, 2020, 2:33 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The government is inclined to put a price cap on the cost of coronavirus tests to ensure the diagnostic tests will be more affordable for the people.

An executive order regulating the price of reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction tests may be issued by President Duterte soon, according to his spokesman Harry Roque.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr.

“Ngayon, nag-aantay na lang ng pirma ng Presidente (Now, it is just awaiting the President’s signature),” Roque said during a televised press briefing Thursday.

Asked if the government will impose the price ceiling on COVID tests, Roque said: “From all indications, mukha naman magkakaroon ng price cap (it seems there will be a price cap).”

Roque admitted that there should be a limit to the cost of coronavirus tests so more people can be screened for the illness. He bewailed that some testing facilities have offered exorbitant fees for the COVID tests.

“‘Yung iba naman talaga napakataas ng sinisingil. Alam naman natin na pupuwedeng mas mura ang testing dahil sa Project Ark as low as P1,500 kahit nila magbigay ng testing up to P2,000 (Others are charging very high for the tests. We know testing can be cheaper because of Project Ark, there are tests amounting P1,500 to P2,000),” he said.

“So ‘yan lang po para maging mas affordable ang testing sa ating mga kababayan at sa ganun paraan mas marami ang ma-te-testing dahil importante ‘yan sa ating strateghiya. Dahil kung walang testing, hindi natin alam kung sino ang isolate at kung sino ang gagamutin (So that aims to make sure the testing becomes more affordable for our people. That way, there will be more people who can be tested because testing is part of our strategy. Without testing, we will not know who to isolate and who to treat),” he said

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat recently backed calls to impose a price cap on coronavirus tests in a bid to make domestic travel affordable for all. The Tourism chief likewise appealed to test centers to offer budget-friendly but credible COVID tests.

Having a negative coronavirus test result is among the requirements imposed on visitors to areas that have recently reopened doors to tourists.

According to Roque, the Office of the Executive Secretary has completed the paperwork on the draft EO on the proposed price ceiling for COVID tests. A technical working group of Department of Health also made a recommendation on the matter. 

“Well, inaantay na lang po natin ang desisyon ng Presidente, tapos na po lahat ng staff work (We are just waiting for the President’s decision. The staff work has been completed) so it’s a matter of time. I think anytime the President will sign his executive order,” Roque said over DWIZ today.

 Last month, the Department of Health recommended to the President to mandate a price cap for coronavirus swab tests in hospitals and other health facilities. The proposed regulation of the COVID tests came after health authorities monitored the different prices of laboratories.