PhilHealth vows to pay COVID-19 testing debt to Red Cross on Monday

PhilHealth vows to pay COVID-19 testing debt to Red Cross on Monday

The Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) on Friday announced it will settle its obligations to the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) for COVID-19 tests next week.

“Having been in receipt today of the DOJ legal opinion saying that the PhilHealth-PRC MOA is not subject to Procurement Law, PhilHealth will release payment on Monday, October 26, 2020,” PhilHealth said.

The state insurer said its payments to the humanitarian organization would be subject to completeness of billing requirements submitted by the PRC, and in compliance to Commission on Audit (COA) rules.

“This should enable the PRC to immediately resume its testing of swab specimen of concerned sectors which PhilHealth pays for,” it said.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the DOJ had sent its legal opinion to PhilHealth on Friday noon.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque earlier disclosed that the DOJ opined that PhilHealth “has to provide partial payment to the PRC while the memorandum of agreement between PhilHealth and the PRC is undergoing review.”

PhilHealth owes the PRC over P930 million for the COVID-19 tests it conducted.

PhilHealth chief Dante Gierran said the state insurer would not pay its debt until all legal issues regarding their memorandum of agreement (MOA) were settled.

The state insurer’s refusal to settle its obligation to the Red Cross for the COVID-19 tests it conducted resulted in the stranding of thousands of overseas Filipino workers, since the humanitarian organization stopped conducting tests.

Under the MOA, PhilHealth reportedly made an advance payment of P100 million to the PRC for COVID-19 testing services, despite Philippine laws mandating reimbursements instead.

On Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to pay off the P930-million debt of the PhilHealth to the Red Cross.

Red Cross conducts 30 percent of the total COVID-19 tests performed nationwide.

The organization accounted for over 1 million of the 4.3 million tests conducted as of October 18, data from the Department of Health show.