PhilHealth still owes Red Cross over P623 million

Bonz Magsambol
PhilHealth still owes Red Cross over P623 million
PRC chairman Senator Richard Gordon says if PhilHealth fails to pay its debt, PRC will be forced to halt its COVID-19 testing services again

The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHeath) still owes the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) over P623 million for COVID-19 testing services.

In an interview with ANC’s Headstart on Wednesday, December 2, Senator Richard Gordon, PRC chairman, said that PhilHealth’s debt to PRC is now at P623,321,000 because of “non-payment of bills on time.”

“It keeps on moving and moving. We want to compress in such a way as in the original contract that they owe us only P100 million para hindi naman kami nasa alanganin (so that our operations won’t be affected),” Gordon said.

The PRC on October 15 stopped conducting free coronavirus tests for overseas Filipino workers, medical frontliners, and other Filipinos after the state health insurer incurred a P930-million ($19.14-million) debt to the PRC, which already accumulated to P1.1 billion.

On October 27, PhilHealth made its first partial payment of P500 million to the PRC which resumed its testing services afterwards. Another P100 million payment was made on November 5.

Gordon earlier said that they were not giving PhilHealth a deadline to settle its remaining outstanding balance. However, he warned that the PRC would stop its COVID-19 testing services again should PhilHealth fail to pay 3 days after a swab sample is collected.

Under the Universal Health Care Law, PhilHealth is designated as the “national purchaser” of health goods and services, which cover COVID-19 testing and treatment of all Filipinos.

Based on PhilHealth’s agreement with the PRC, the state health insurer should give P100 million as advance payment within 3 days so that the organization will always have a revolving fund for testing supplies and inventory. (READ: Did Gordon’s P100M Red Cross deal with PhilHealth violate laws?)

“I don’t want to be a hog and say, ‘Unahin ‘nyo ako’(Prioritize me),’ but you see, I have no choice. If they don’t pay us, then we are forced to stop,” Gordon said.

Gordon added that PRC is spending some P25 million per day for its COVID-19 testing services.

The PRC’s testing services make up a significant portion of the Philippines’ testing capacity. The health department had earlier admitted that the PhilHealth-PRC issue affected the country’s COVID-19 testing operations–

Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.