MANILA - The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) on Monday said the Philippine Health Insurance Corp's (PhilHealth) debt to the organization has ballooned to nearly P1 billion for the second time after the state insurance firm failed to settle payments shortly after each test.
PhilHealth - which committed to shoulder the COVID-19 testing of all frontliners - earlier said it would settle its bills with the PRC "strictly 3 days after each swab is conducted."
"The COVID-19 swab testing debt of PhilHealth to the PRC is almost P1 billion again," PRC chair Sen. Richard Gordon said in a tweet.
"We're biting our nails in hopes that they settle their dues before this becomes a 'Part 2' of the issue," he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte "vouches na lahat ng pagkakautang ng PhilHealth pagdating sa (all PhilHealth debt for) PCR test will be paid," said his spokesman Harry Roque.
“Going by the track record of PhilHealth, nagkakautang, nagbabayad naman po (it incurs debt, it pays),” he told reporters in an online briefing.
Last year, the PRC - the biggest COVID-19 tester in the country - temporarily halted its testing operations for several days after PhilHealth failed to pay its P1.1-billion debt.
The non-profit organization agreed to resume testing after an agreement that the state insurer would pay half of its debt, and settle future tests less than a week after each swab is conducted.
"Kung wala kaming pangtakbo ng operasyon at pambayad sa doctors at medtech, titigil ang testing at hindi natin matutulungan ang mga kapwa Pilipino natin," Gordon said.
(If we do not have funds to run our operations and pay doctors and medical technicians, the testing will stop and we cannot help our fellow Filipinos.)
"It would be best if PhilHealth settles its dues on time because it's the Filipino people who will lose," he said.
Gordon also urged PhilHealth to organize its internal issues first before pushing for a hike in contributions from its members.
"Bago magtaas ng contributions ang PhilHealth, dapat linisin muna nila ang bahay nila," the senator said.
(Before they increase contributions, PhilHealth should first clean up its own house.)
"Ang daming korapsyon diyan. (There is so much corruption there.) It's a highway of crime which we've been investigating in the Senate Blue Ribbon since September 2019," he said.
Aside from dealing with PhilHealth's debt issue, the PRC is also pushing for the approval of the COVID-19 saliva test to make the cost of testing more affordable, Gordon said.