Duterte: PhilHealth's P930 million debt to Red Cross will be paid but 'will take time'
In this Oct. 5, 2020 photo, President Rodrigo Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases core members at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang.
Presidential Photo/Simeon Celi

Duterte: PhilHealth's P930 million debt to Red Cross will be paid but 'will take time'

Christian Deiparine (Philstar.com) - October 19, 2020 - 10:21pm

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said government will settle the multi-million debt incurred by the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. to the Philippine Red Cross, after the organization stopped its coronavirus tests funded by the state insurer. 

Red Cross announced last week that it had been pushed to make the difficult decision of halting its COVID-19 screenings with "no single centavo" paid from PhilHealth's total of P930 million overdue amount. 

In his weekly address, Duterte said government is looking to resolve the matter, but admitting too that it will take time to pay the said amount. 

"We're just looking for a way to present the solution to COA and the budget department," he said in mixed Filipino and English. "We'll look for the money. Our priority will remain providing medical treatment and attention."

The organization's move is seen to affect ongoing tests for returning OFWs, those in mega swabbing facilities as well as individuals covered by the expanded testing guidelines of the health department. Private and public-run laboratories across the country have conducted over four million coronavirus tests, with Red Cross accounting for more than a million. 

Duterte said he would meet with Red Cross' chairman, Sen. Richard Gordon, over the matter as he said government is stretching its resources to continue its virus response. 

"I do not think Senator Gordon would have it in his mind to stop..[but] what I'm really trying to say is we will pay," he said. "Money has always been a problem everywhere. We are trying to make both ends meet."

Latest figures from the health department showed that there are a total of 147 facilities screening samples in the country, or 112 RT-PCR and 35 GeneXpert laboratories. Both the agency and PhilHealth have said that particular testing labs could shoulder in the meantime those that were supposed to be screened by Red Cross. 

PhilHealth had been the subject of corruption allegations in the past months at a time when the country is struggling hard with an ongoing health crisis. 

The agency's executive officials were said to have amassed some P15 billion in questionable deals as alleged by a whistleblower, apart from expensive IT contracts and reimbursement issues to private hospitals. 

Duterte has formed a task force led by the justice department to probe and charge officials involved, and he has put to task new PhilHealth chief Dante Gierran to rid the agency of corruption by the end of the year. 

The President has also brought up the possibility of privatizing the state insurer, something Gierran had opposed but was supported by Health Secretary Franciso Duque III. 

COVID-19 PHILHEALTH PRESIDENT RODRIGO DUTERTE
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: October 27, 2020 - 6:53pm

The Philippine Health Insurance Corp. is facing scrutiny anew over more allegations of corruption.

It was in the headlines last year because of an alleged scam involving payments to WellMed Dialysis Center for treatments charged for a patient who had already died.

Follow this thread for updates.

October 27, 2020 - 6:53pm

The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation announces that the agency has released P500 million as partial payment to the Philippine Red Cross. 

"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", PhiHealth President and CEO Dante Gierran says in a statement.

October 27, 2020 - 6:51pm

PhilHealth has released P50 million as partial payment to the Philippine Red Cross, PhilHealth President and CEO Dante Gierran says.

"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," Gierran says.

The state insurer adds that it will expedite the processing of its remaining balance to Red Cross following strict compliance to government accounting rules and regulations.

October 27, 2020 - 3:19pm

Two committees in the House approve a report recommending the filing of administrative and criminal charges against Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, former PhilHealth chief Ricardo Morales and other officials over the widespread corruption in the state health insurer.

October 19, 2020 - 9:17pm

President Rodrigo Duterte says the government will compensate the Philippine Red Cross for COVID-19 tests.

The Red Cross recently halted conducting tests due to the P930 million debt of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation for the conduct of COVID-19 tests for the government.

"I don't think Sen. (Richard) Gordon would have in his mind to stop. What I'm trying to say is we will pay," Duterte says in a recorded address aired Monday night.

October 15, 2020 - 3:07pm

The Philippine Red Cross will stop conducting COVID-19 tests chargeable to PhilHealth due to the state insurer's outstanding balance.

PRC says it will no longer receive specimens for testing of OFWs, those arriving in airports and seaports, individuals through mega swabbing facilities, frontline health and government workers, and others included in the expanded testing guidelines of the DOH.

"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," PRC says in a statement dated October 14.

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