PhilHealth to address COVID-19 test payment issue with Red Cross

Robie de Guzman   •   October 15, 2020   •   147

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) on Thursday assured it is now addressing the payment issues with the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) after the latter stopped its conduct of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing chargeable to the state insurer due to unsettled debts.

In a statement, PhilHealth recognized the PRC as an “important partner” in the government’s drive to curb COVID-19 through intensive targeted testing.

The state insurer said it is now working with the PRC to thresh out issues pertaining to unpaid balances for COVID-19 testing funded by the agency.

“It is in close coordination with the PRC to thresh out issues pertaining to the said partnership so the PRC can immediately resume accommodating RT-PCR tests for priority sectors that will be paid for by PhilHealth,” the statement read.

PhilHealth said that as of September 2020, it already paid the PRC a total of P1.6 billion for at least 433,263 tests.    

“In the meantime, it is requesting that specimens from affected sectors be submitted to other accredited testing laboratories to be able to avail of PhilHealth benefits,” it said.

The PRC has earlier said it will no longer accommodate tests chargeable to PhilHealth due to its “inability to settle its ever-increasing outstanding balance.”

The organization explained it does not have unlimited resources to replenish the testing kits of its laboratories.

It said the cessation of the PhilHealth-funded COVID-19 testing will remain until the agency has paid its balance of more than P930 million.

The government earlier apologized to the PRC over PhilHealth’s debts and promised to resolve the financial issue.

DFA reports one new COVID-19 case among overseas Filipinos

Marje Pelayo   •   October 26, 2020

MANILA, Philippines –  The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Sunday (October 25) reported one new case of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) among overseas Filipinos from the Asia and the Pacific.

Also, no new fatality and no new recovery were reported. 

To date, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases among Filipinos abroad is at 11,199.

Meanwhile, the tally of fatalities is still at 815 while recoveries remain at 7,248.

The Middle East and Africa continue to be the combined regions with the most number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and have recorded the most number of deaths at 7,376 and 532, respectively. 

The DFA vows full commitment in monitoring the situation of overseas Filipinos who are affected by the pandemic and remains steadfast in promoting and protecting their welfare.

PhilHealth vows to pay Philippine Red Cross in full on October 26

Marje Pelayo   •   October 26, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) will heed the legal opinion of the Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding its memorandum of agreement with the Philippines Red Cross (PRC). 

After confirming that the agreement is not subject to Procurement Law, the state insurer decided to pay the PRC in full on Monday (October 26).

But the agency insisted that it will only pay the PRC based on the complete billing requirements that it will provide and in accordance with regulation imposed by the Commission on Audit (COA) over the amount due.

The state insurer owes PRC P930 million, hence why the latter suspended its swab testing services for coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

PhilHealth said it has enough funds to pay its obligation to the PRC and stressed that once it settles the full amount, PRC has to immediately resume its swab testing service.

READ: Duterte promises to settle PhilHealth’s multi-million debt to Philippine Red Cross

PRC chairman Senator Richard Gordon on the other hand maintained that PRC will not resume its service until the state insurer pays in full for fear that PRC’s cash reserve would be depleted and bankrupt the humanitarian organization if PhilHealth fails to pay immediately. MNP (with reports from Mon Jocson)

Relaxed travel restrictions still pose health risks—UP OCTA Research

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 23, 2020

Experts from the University of the Philippines (UP) OCTA Research team said relaxed travel restrictions may still pose health risks.

Dr. Guido David, team member of the UP OCTA Research, said it is too early for the country to accept inbound travels and that further review is needed to avoid coronavirus disease (COVID-19) transmission.

“There’s a surge happening right now in Europe so if we were not careful, maraming cases [there are a lot of cases] outside the Philippine, in Europe and certain parts of the world, kasama pa rin diyan iyong sa (these includes) the United States and India. So we have to be careful about letting people,” he said.

David also said despite the drop of COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila, there is still a possibility for cases to increase if no safety measures is implemented.

“We’re also a bit worried because the rate of decrease in NCR is not that low anymore. It’s very slow. So it could be, the trend might be reversing anytime,” he added.

Services of Red Cross should also resume first, according to David, because its testing capacity covers 1/4 of the total testing capacity of the country. He also reiterated the need for the public to cooperate in order to fight against the virus.

“The public should be aware that the virus is still here. That the pandemic is not yet over. So if they’re loosening restrictions, responsibility is in the public in deciding whether or not they want to go out,” he said. -AAC (with reports from Vincent Arboleda).

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