Despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to pay for over a billion debt to Philippine Red Cross, Senator Richard Gordon lamented that the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) has not made any payments for the COVID-19 tests yet.
This will affect the shipment of COVID-19 testing kits and equipment which is set to fly in the country Tuesday, he added.
“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 text message.
Gordon, who chairs the PRC, said that the organization’s COVID-19 test kits are almost out of stock and they need the payment immediately to ensure that they can replenish their kits.
“We are waiting for payment as the Chinese always require cash payment. Because of PhilHealth’s promises to pay, we had chartered a flight to China for tomorrow,” he said.
“We thank Sec. (Teodoro) Locsin (Jr.) of [Department of Foreign Affairs] for helping us with the permits from the Chinese government, but due to PhilHealth’s non-payment we do not have the money to pay for the test kits and other equipment,” he said.
The shipment is worth $6 to $8 million, the PRC chair said.
“We will have to cancel the flight tomorrow if no payment is made,” he lamented.
Last week, PhilHealth vowed to pay its debt worth P930 million to the PRC on 26 October.
“We sadly note that PhilHealth keeps giving excuses on such a serious and critical matter. First, they say they want to be sure the contract is okay. They needed [Department of Budget and Management]. The President told them to pay. Then it was referred to [Department of Justice] who told them the contract is valid and they must pay,” Gordon said.
“PhilHealth has been perfidious, reckless and they have been in violation of the contract so many times. PRC covered the first humongous wave of people to be tested. PhilHealth should be ashamed of themselves for betraying our vulnerable people,” Gordon said.
“They have been cheating the people since they started operations overcharging and overpaying. Those who have been cheating before COVID are still there. PhilHealth is playing with people’s lives. A lot more people may be spreading COVID because of the severe lack of testing,” he slammed the state insurer.
He reiterated that the debt of PhilHealth covered the testing brought by the Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine National Police, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, public hospitals, and others approved by the Department of Health.
“We do not test any other entities to be paid by PhilHealth. We do test the private folks and they pay P4000. PhilHealth is charged by agreement, P3500,” he noted.
“PRC has advanced over a billion and we roll over previous delayed payments to resupply,” he added.
Previously, the PRC announced that it will halt PhilHealth-funded COVID-19 tests due to the non-payment of its outstanding debts.