P500M paid: PhilHealth settles half its debt to PH Red Cross for COVID-19 testing

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 27 2020 07:52 PM | Updated as of Oct 27 2020 10:24 PM

Philippine Red Cross

MANILA— The Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) on Tuesday said it already released some P500 million, roughly half of its P1.1 billion debt, as partial payment to the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) for COVID-19 testing, PhilHealth President and CEO Dante Gierran confirmed. 

The state insurer said it would fast track the processing of its remaining balance to PRC “following strict compliance to government accounting rules and regulations.” 

Gierran said PhilHealth is using its funds prudently and the agency is not “playing on people’s lives.” 

"PhilHealth takes exception to the insinuation that it is reckless and is playing on people’s lives. Its prudence in taking charge of its members’ hard-earned contributions is central to the state health insurer. Its exercise of judiciousness is to protect the people and their funds," Gierran said. 

The delay in payment had infuriated PRC chair Sen. Richard Gordon, saying PhilHealth has been "perfidious, reckless and they have been in violation of the contract so many times." 

The agency also gave the assurance that the accredited laboratories conducting RT-PCR tests for OFWs would expedite the remaining payment for tests to resume. 

“PhilHealth also recognizes and assures the accredited laboratories conducting the current OFW RT-PCR tests that it will expedite the processing of its payments upon submission of complete documentary requirements,” the statement read. 

PhilHealth said last week it would settle its P1.1-billion debt to the PRC by Monday, Oct. 26, but it failed to release the payment on time after the agency's internal review revealed that some provisions of the state insurer’s memorandum of agreement with the non-government humanitarian organization were "irregular if not outright illegal.” 

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PhilHealth and PRC entered into an agreement in May this year where the latter was to conduct a massive COVID-19 testing program, charging PhilHealth P3,500 for each test.

The PRC, which has halted its COVID-19 testing services over PhilHealth's nonpayment, catered to around 26 percent or 1.15 million of the total coronavirus screenings done in the country.

— With a report from Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News