MANILA (UPDATED) — The Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) on Thursday announced it released another P100 million in partial payment to its debt to the Philippine Red Cross for COVID-19 testing.
“PhilHealth releases another P100,003,015 to Philippine Red Cross today; fast tracks validation of claims to reimburse COVID-19 tests done by the PRC in support of the government’s campaign to curb the effect of pandemic particularly to OFWS,” the PhilHealth said in a statement.
On Oct. 27, the state health insurer said it also made a partial payment to the PRC worth P500 million for its P1.1 billion debt.
PhilHealth spokesperson Rey Baleña said in an interview with ABS-CBN News that the agency’s debt to PRC for COVID-19 tests as of Thursday is down to around P377 million.
“I think P377 million pa po based on [Philippine] Red Cross' latest pronouncement. Tuloy-tuloy naman na ang releases as we are expediting validation,” Baleña said in a text message.
(I think we still have a P377 million debt from Philippine Red Cross based on its latest pronouncement. We will release more payments.)
The PRC had resumed its COVID-19 testing services after the initial partial payment was made.
Sen. Richard Gordon, who chairs the PRC, warned however that the non-government humanitarian organization would halt its coronavirus testing program again should PhilHealth, in the new tests being conducted, fail to pay 3 days after a swab sample is collection.
The Red Cross, in mid-October, suspended its COVID-19 testing of repatriated Filipinos due to the PhilHealth's unpaid debt that, at the time, ran close to P1 billion.
The PhilHealth and PRC entered into an agreement in May this year for the latter's massive COVID-19 testing program, charging the government health insurer P3,500 for each test.
Before it halted its testing services, the PRC catered to around 26 percent or 1.15 million of the total coronavirus screenings done in the country.
The Philippines' cumulative total of COVID-19 cases is nearing the 390,000-mark, as of Thursday, of which, 32,773 are considered active.
As of Wednesday, more than 4.6 million individuals in the country have been tested for COVID-19. — With a report from Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News