The Philippine Red Cross has decided to formally cease its COVID-19 testing funded by the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) on Oct. 14, after the state health insurance agency failed to settle its payment backlog.

REDCROSS123 - Red Cross to cease COVID testing funded by PhilHealth
Philippine Red Cross
(MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

In a statement, the PRC said it will no longer receive specimens for testing of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), those arriving in airports and seaports, individuals through the mega swabbing facilities and through the local government units (LGUs), frontline health and government workers, and others included in the expanded testing guidelines of the Department of Health (DOH) per its memorandum dated July 6, 2020.

This will remain until PhilHealth, according to the PRC, pays its overdue balance, which has spiked to P930.993 million.

The PRC, meanwhile, will continue to test individuals who booked their testing through the 1158 Helpline of the PRC or online at book.redcross1158.com, private companies and organizations, and LGUs and other government agencies with laboratory testing agreements with the PRC whose payments are up-to-date.

“This is a difficult decision for a humanitarian organization such as the PRC to make but it has to be made. The PRC does not have unlimited resources to replenish the testing kits for its laboratories unless PhilHealth, its major creditor, settles its lawful obligations to the PRC,” the PRC said in a statement.

According to the PRC, PhilHealth has stopped replenishing the P100 million revolving fund after it had been depleted. The PRC is now shouldering the cost of the testing services as a result of PhilHealth’s non-payment.

Other than the testing kits, the PRC also needs funds to operate its 21 laboratories in strategic areas in the country that are capable of testing 42,000 tests per day. The organization also said the PRC needs funds to pay hundreds of its medical technologists, encoders, and pathologists, and to provide for their anti-COVID-19 gears.

“The PRC entered into an agreement with PhilHealth for the latter to reimburse the PRC for these priority tests requested by the government agencies. Unfortunately, PhilHealth failed to meet its obligations,” the PRC stated.

“As a result the total billings sent by the PRC to PhilHealth stand at P1,014,975,500 as of Oct. 13, 2020. Of this amount, the P930.993 million represents overdue payments,” they also said.

Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman and CEO of the PRC, earlier lamented PhilHealth’s non-settlement of its debts with the PRC, and urged the agency to settle its balance so they can continue with the testing smoothly.

“We have to replenish our resources to be able to continue testing,” Gordon said.

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