MANILA - The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation apologized Friday after the Philippine Red Cross ceased conducting COVID-19 tests to migrant workers and medical frontliners after PhilHealth's failure to settle its debt amounting to P930 million.
The delayed payment is part of the review that newly installed PhilHealth chief Dante Gierran is conducting to check its partnership with the group, the state insurer’s spokesperson Rey Baleña told Teleradyo.
“Humihingi kami ng paumanhin kung may ganiyan na usapin… Nandun ‘yung pagsisikap natin na ito ay maproseso at mabayaran,” he said.
(We want to apologize if there’s such issue… We are working hard to process and settle this.)
Baleña said they were only waiting for clearances from other government agencies to settle the dues.
“Meron lang sino-sort out na ilang bagay sa ibang authorities para tiyak po na tayo ay good to go at talagang maayos. Siyempre ito ay pera ng ating mga miyembro,” he said.
(We are just sorting things out to ensure we are good to go. Of course, this is the money of our members.)
In an earlier statement, PhilHealth said it had paid PRC some P1.6 billion for over 400,000 tests it conducted.
While Red Cross has stopped accepting specimens for COVID-19 testing, the state insurer said other accredited testing laboratories could take over for the meantime.
PCR secretary-general Elizabeth Zaballa, in a separate interview, urged PhilHealth to settle their bills before they could resume the tests.
“Kailangan naman bayaran ‘yung obligasyon nila sa amin dahil ang serbisyo naman po ay naibigay namin ng tama at mahusay,” she told Teleradyo.
(They have to pay us because we have delivered the service well.)
The payment will be used for their operating expenses, which include the procurement of test kits and personal protective equipment.
Red Cross purchases test kits from China for P500 million and is offering competitive salaries to their medical workers, Zaballa said.
PhilHealth last paid Red Cross P706 million on Sept. 8.
Zaballa said Red Cross also agreed to lower the COVID-19 tests from P3,500 to P3,409 upon PhilHealth's request.
Among those affected by the halting of PRC’s COVID-19 tests are overseas Filipino workers, individuals arriving in airports and seaports, individuals through the mega swabbing facilities and medical frontliners.