Philippine Red Cross

Red Cross resumes COVID-19 testing services after PhilHealth payment

Bonz Magsambol
Red Cross resumes COVID-19 testing services after PhilHealth payment

RT-PCR COVID-19 swab booth at the Philippine Red Cross in Mandaluyong City on Thursday, September 24, 2020.

Photo by Darren Langit/Rappler

Red Cross chairman Senator Richard Gordon says he requested all accredited laboratories being operated by the organization to open their services to PhilHealth again

The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) resumed its free COVID-19 testing on Tuesday night, October 27, after the embattled Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) paid P500 million or half of its P1.1-billion debt to the organization.

In a virtual press briefing on Tuesday night, PRC chairman Senator Richard Gordon said that he requested all accredited laboratories being operated by the organization to open their services to PhilHealth again.

“Tonight, I have requested the secretary-general and all our laboratories to open it to PhilHealth again. We are going to have the testing tonight from the Manila International Airport, for now, then tomorrow, regular testing will be conducted in full,” Gordon said.

According to Gordon, swab samples from hotels can now be transported to the airport for processing. “I have no doubt. Our people in Red Cross and staff will able to do so,” he added.

Gordon said the PRC is not giving PhilHealth a deadline to settle its remaining outstanding balance.

“I will leave it upon them. I leave it upon the government,” he said.

On October 15, the PRC 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.

The Red Cross called off these tests because of PhilHealth’s “inability to settle its ever-increasing outstanding balance.”

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.

The PRC’s testing services make up a significant portion of the Philippines’ current testing capacity, operating 21 of the 152 licensed COVID-19 testing hubs in the country. The health department admitted on October 21 that the PhilHealth-PRC issue was affecting the country’s COVID-19 testing operations– Rappler.com

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.