MANILA - The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) owes the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) some P500 million in payments for COVID-19 tests, the chairman of the non-government organization said Sunday.
The PRC has tested 557,622 Filipinos for the virus as of Friday, more than the government's Research Institute for Tropical Medicine did, Sen. Richard Gordon said.
PhilHealth last paid some P370 million, with its next billing last Thursday at P19.3 million, Gordon said.
"Syempre nangangapa na 'ko. Sabi ko, 'pag di pa kayo nagbayad nang mabilis, maipipilitan ako, labag man sa kalooban ko, hihinto yan. Sinabi ko na, aabot tayo ng halos P1 billion, 'di namin kaya yan," Gordon told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
(Of course, I was at wit's end. I said if they cannot pay immediately, I will have to stop the tests. Their unpaid dues will reach almost P1 billion, we can't shoulder that.)
"Malaki pa rin ang utang...Ang collectible P500 million pa."
(They still owe us a lot. There's still P500 million in collectibles.)
The senator earlier said the state insurance firm was not prioritizing payments to Red Cross due to a lack of "kickbacks" as Senate investigation revealed supposed fraud mechanisms in PhilHealth.
"The objective of the agreement is for PhilHealth to implement a prospective payment mechanism. In other words, nauuna para hinid kakapusin, for the testing rendered by PRC," he said.
(In other words, they should advance the payment so funds for the testing rendered by PRC won't be inadequate.)
The government urged the PRC to use its COVID-19 test kits, which is costlier at P1,332 than the latter's P936, he added.
On Thursday, the PRC began informing virus patients of their test results due to the government's slow distribution, Gordon said.
"Nalaman namin, 'di nila naibibigay... Ngayon, binago namin. Ngayon, talaga computerized na. Ang positive binibigay namin sa DOH dahil sila ang propesor, ang magsasabi at saka binibilang nila ang positive. Hindi 'ata nagkaintindihan, tumagal dun," he said.
(We found out the results weren't being given. We have computerized our system. The positive results, we give to DOH because they announce and count it. There seemed to be a misunderstanding.)
"Umpisa August 20, magbibigay na kami ng positive, kahit ayaw namin yun."
(Starting August 20, we will give out positive test results even though it's against our will.)
The organization will also provide food to the family of virus patients so they do not need to go outside their homes, he added.
The Philippines as of Saturday reported 187,249 COVID-19 cases, with 114,921 recoveries and 2,966 deaths.