Palace to look into allegedly overpriced PhilHealth COVID-19 test packages

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 21 2020 03:28 PM

Palace to look into allegedly overpriced PhilHealth COVID-19 test packages 1
Healthworkers conduct routine swab testing for the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) on their fellow hospital employees at the Sta. Ana Hospital in Manila on April 14, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/file photo

MANILA -- The Office of the Special Assistant to the President will look into the allegedly overpriced COVID-19 testing packages of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), Malacañang said Thursday.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said he would refer the issue to Undersecretary Jesus Melchor Quitain who heads the said body under the Office of the President, since he has a conflict of interest over the matter.

"May conflict of interest na po ako diyan dahil ako po mismo ang mga nagsampa ng kasong kriminal laban sa mga kurakot sa PhilHealth. Di na po ako magkukumento," Roque said in a Palace briefing.

(I have a conflict of interest on that since I was the one who filed criminal charges against the corrupt officials of PhilHealth. I won't comment.)

Roque was the lawyer who filed the charges last year in relation to the PhilHealth controversy over the alleged misuse of state health insurance funds on bogus dialysis treatments. He said Quitain handled the Palace investigation on the issue.

"Siya (Quitain) po ang gumawa ng naunang imbestigasyon sa PhilHealth na nagresulta sa pagtanggal ng ilang miyembro ng board of directors ng PhilHealth," Roque said.

(He made the earlier investigation on PhilHealth that led to the removal of members of the board of directors of PhilHealth.)

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon initially flagged the P8,150 testing package of PhilHealth as "overpriced."

PhilHealth President Ricardo Morales said the price was based on data "collected early in the pandemic" and that the incoming test kits will be "cheaper."

PhilHealth currently offers 3 packages for coronavirus testing ranging from P2,710 to as high as P8,150, "depending on how the test kits were procured by the accredited testing laboratories," according to the firm's website. --with a report from Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News