Gordon slams PhilHealth over failure to settle debt to Red Cross on promised date

Robie de Guzman   •   October 27, 2020   •   432

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Richard Gordon, chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), on Tuesday lashed out at the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) after it failed to pay its debt on Monday.

“PhilHealth owes PRC P1.1 billion already. No payment as yet in spite of their numerous announcements that they will pay,” Gordon said in a statement.

Gordon said the PRC supposedly has a scheduled flight to China on Tuesday to procure COVID-19 test kits and equipment worth $6 million to $8 million but had to cancel since no payment had been made.

He said the PRC would have to re-schedule the flight and wait for another week to secure permits from the Chinese government.

With its failure to pay, Gordon blasted PhilHealth for being “very reckless,” and “very irresponsible.”

He also lamented PhilHealth’s giving of excuses on such as serious and critical matter.

“It’s up to them. They don’t pay, kung may mangyari diyan, then sila bahala. Nasa konsensya nila yan kapag may namatay,” he said in a separate media interview.

The PRC last week stopped the conduct of the PhilHealth-covered COVID-19 testing due to the agency’s outstanding balances.

Gordon said he is “totally perplexed” on why PhilHealth chief Dante Gierran is reluctant to pay PhilHealth’s debt, saying that his “fear” may be delaying the settlement.

In a message, PhilHealth said it will release a statement once it has issued the cheque for the Red Cross.

Meanwhile, Malacañang said the government will find another way if the PRC will not heed its call to resume testing despite the proposal for PhilHealth to provide partial payment.

Gordon earlier insisted that the PRC must be paid in full.

“Kung talagang hindi natin mapipilit ang PRC na bumalik, maski ang offer po ngayon ay 50 percent na babayaran, wala po tayong magagawa. Kailangan pong humanap tayo ng mga alternatibo,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)



Duterte wants RT-PCR test, isolation in PhilHealth insurance coverage

Marje Pelayo   •   April 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has expanded the coverage of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) for COVID-19 patients.

To ease patients’ financial burden, the President asked PhilHealth to include COVID-19 testing, isolation, and hospitalization services into the agency’s health insurance coverage.

“Nagbigay ng direktiba ang ating presidente sa Philippine Health Insurance Corp. na kasama sa health insurance coverage ang RT-PCR test, isolation sa accredited community isolation units at hospitalization para sa mild at critical cases ng COVID-19,” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

The Palace spokesman said under the country’s testing protocol, RT-PCR tests will be subsidized by the government through PhilHealth for medical and economic frontliners, and those with high exposure to COVID-19 as well as those with symptoms.

“At most, ang babayaran ninyo po ay P300. So, ang bayad po diyan ay Philhealth kaya nga po bilyon-bilyong, ang single largest expenditure ng Philhealth. Hindi naman po tama na sabihin natin na hindi tayo nakakapagbigay ng libreng testing sa ating mga kababayan,” Roque said.

“Wala pong dahilan para hindi Philhealth ang magbayad ng inyong PCR test kung qualified ka makakuha ng PCR test,” he added.

Roque also stressed that PhilHealth should cover patients staying in temporary tents in hospitals and consider them as cases of in-patient care. -MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

PH gov’t to increase COVID-19 testing up to 90K a day – Dizon

Robie de Guzman   •   March 30, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The government is looking to ramp up the number of COVID-19 tests in Metro Manila and nearby provinces especially amid the enforcement of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), testing czar Vince Dizon said Tuesday.

“Sinabi na po ni IATF chairperson na si (Health) Secretary Francisco Duque na mag-ramp up tayo ng ating testing and detection dito sa NCR (National Capital Region), Bulacan, Cavite, and Rizal lalong-lalo na ngayong panahon ng ECQ,” Dizon said during a Palace online briefing.

Dizon said they are eyeing to increase the COVID-19 tests up to 90,000 per day.

To achieve this, the testing czar said the government will be using antigen test kits validated by the World Health Organization, through its emergency use listing, and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) along with the RT-PCR test.

He said antigen tests will be used in areas with high number of COVID-19 cases such as Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal – collectively tagged as the ‘NCR Plus’ bubble.

Dizon said the use of antigen test kits will help the government in immediately identifying those infected with coronavirus as it can yield faster results.

The test kits will also be used in hospitals to test suspected patients and healthcare workers.

“Ito rin po ang gagamitin ng mga mayor para magtest sa mga lugar, lalo na sa mga barangay na mataas ang kaso,” he added.

Currently, the country conducts more than 51,000 RT-PCR tests a day.

Dizon said the government will procure additional 30,000 antigen test kits along with the RT-PCR tests to achieve the targeted 90,000 tests per day. He, however, noted that these kits will only be limited to the NCR Plus area.

The testing czar further stated that the 500,000 antigen test kits, as announced earlier by the Malacañang, are still being procured by the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD).

The OCD is only allowed to purchase the antigen kits brands Panbio COVID-19 Ag rapid test kit, SD Biosensor test kit, and Lansion test kit.

“Ang target po natin ay mag-procure ang OCD ng 500,000 antigen test kits para mai-deploy sa mga communities at iba’t ibang ospital sa ECQ area,” he said.

Dizon also reported that the country so far has 239 testing laboratories all over the country.

COVID-19 testing, maaari pa ring gawing travel requirement ng LGU kung kinakailangan – IATF

Robie de Guzman   •   March 5, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Nilinaw ng Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) na maaari pa ring obligahin ng mga lokal na pamahalaan ang mga biyahero na magsumite ng RT-PCR test result kung pupunta o uuwi sa kanilang lugar.

Ginawa ng IATF ang paglilinaw matapos magkaroon ng kalituhan at komento ng ilan na tila balewala ang inilabas nitong kautusan na nagsasabing hindi na gagawing mandatory ang COVID-19 testing para sa mga bibiyahe.

“Ang general rule is no testing required except if kailangan ng LGU, so it’s really up to the LGUs so ibig sabihin kapag sinabi ng LGU, kailangan pa rin then it has to be RT-PCR wala nang iba,” ang pahayag ni Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.

Sinabi rin ni Nograles na maaari ding gamitin ng mga LGU bilang requirement ang Saliva testing ng Philippine Red Cross dahil katumbas din naman ito ng RT-PCR test.

Aniya, aprubado na ng IATF ang paggamit ng Saliva Testing at mas mura ito kumpara sa swab test.

“Para maliwanag, para wala na yung iba’t-ibang testing, basta kung kailangan ng testing it’s RT-PCR before travel pero pwede saliva test ng Red Cross,” ang wika ni Nograles.

Samantala, muli ring binigyang-diin ng opisyal na hindi na kailangang sumailalim pa sa quarantine o isolation ang mga taong dadayo sa isang lugar.

Ito ay maliban na kung magpapakita ang mga ito ng sintomas ng COVID-19 pagdating sa mismong destinasyon.

“Ang pakiusap namin sa mga LGUs wala ng quarantine kasi nagkakaroon rin ng problema sa quarantine. Ika-quarantine lang po kung upon symptoms check eh makikita na meron kang sintomas,” ang pahayag ni Nograles.

Una nang sinabi ng IATF na minarapat nitong bawasan at padaliin ang travel requirement o guidelines upang maiwasan na ang mga insidente ng pamemeke ng dokumento at mahikayat ang publiko na bumiyahe nang matulungang makabangon ang ekonomiya ng bansa na nalugmok sa gitna ng pandemiya.

Pinapayuhan lamang ang mga biyahero na makipag-ugnayan sa lokal na pamahalaan ng lugar na kanilang pupuntahan upang malaman ang local travel requirement.

Dapat ding panatilihin ang pagsunod sa health protocols gaya ng physical distancing, pagsusuot ng face mask at face shield, at malimit na paghuhugas ng kamay upang maiwasang mahawa ng COVID-19. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Joan Nano)

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