PRC resumes swab testing, wants P.5 billion in 3 days
The state insurer has a remaining balance of P561 million, according to the PRC, or equivalent to 160,375 tests it had done for PhilHealth.
Boy Santos, file
PRC resumes swab testing, wants P.5 billion in 3 days
Neil Jayson Servallos (The Philippine Star) - October 29, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Red Cross yesterday said the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. has about three days to pay the remaining P.5 billion it owes PRC for COVID-19 testing, a day after it agreed to resume testing services for the government and PhilHealth-covered patients.

PRC chairman Sen. Richard Gordon said the period was set in the agreement between his organization and the state insurer.

“The debt is due and demandable and the agreement says upon demand by the Red Cross of payment, when we submit the receipts and all the things that go with this such as the records, pictures and results… they should pay in three days,” Gordon said in an interview aired over ANC.

PhilHealth sent a check worth half its P1.1-billion debt to the PRC the other day, according to Gordon, or nearly two weeks after the humanitarian organization suspended its testing services for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), health frontliners, government workers and other individuals covered by PhilHealth.

The state insurer has a remaining balance of P561 million, according to the PRC, or equivalent to 160,375 tests it had done for PhilHealth.

The PRC resumed Tuesday night its testing at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, while its other testing laboratories reopened yesterday.

Gordon said the PRC would send a letter to PhilHealth asking for the immediate settlement of its remaining balance, or else the organization would have to stop its testing program again.

“It’s hard to talk with them. If they are not serious we are deadly serious. They are responsible for deaths that will happen, they are responsible if there’s a surge right now. There could be a surge in testing of positives. I hope it doesn’t happen. I pray it doesn’t happen… this country cannot afford to have another lockdown,” he added.

He also warned the state insurer that the Red Cross would no longer let debt pile up, adding that they would be charging them as they test.

“So the people we test right now, the whole day and last night, we will send the bill to them right away so it doesn’t go bigger than it has to be,” Gordon said.

The PRC earlier signed an agreement with PhilHealth for the reimbursement of priority tests requested by government agencies. The organization said the state insurer failed to facilitate this and resulted in a debt of almost a billion.

Under the PRC and PhilHealth’s memorandum of agreement, PRC said a revolving fund of P100 million was supposed to be replenished immediately after it had been depleted. The PRC said PhilHealth “never” replenished the fund.

The PRC earlier said PhilHealth’s outstanding balance had been preventing them from procuring test kits and deprived them of resources needed to operate 21 testing laboratories in the country which had been doing the lion’s share of COVID-19 testing.

PhilHealth president and chief executive officer Dante Gierran, meanwhile, sought PRC’s “understanding” for the delayed release of payment.

“We seek your understanding for the delay of payment as the undersigned wanted to make sure that the Memorandum of Agreement with PRC is valid and suffers no legal infirmities,” stated his letter dated Oct. 27.

Gierran said they will seek the “immediate post facto approval of the President of the Philippines and shall be liquidated immediately from your subsequent billing.”

He added the remaining balance shall be paid once the documentary requirements for claims submitted by PRC have been “validated and verified” by PhilHealth.

The official had proposed the “renegotiation of the terms” of the MOA between PhilHealth and PRC.

The Philippine Coast Guard, for its part, clarified that the government is still conducting swab tests of OFWs and other returning Filipinos at the airports.

A message from Undersecretary Raul del Rosario relayed by PCG spokesman Commodore Armand Balilo stated that “the government will continue to render free RT-PCR related services to all returning OFWs.” – Sheila Crisostomo, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Robertzon Ramirez

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