The country's state insurer has three days to settle its remaining P561-million debt to Philippine Red Cross, the organization's chairman Sen. Richard Gordon said Wednesday.
Red Cross had resumed its coronavirus tests funded by the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. on Tuesday night, after the agency paid half of its nearly P1 billion in overdue amounts.
Speaking to ANC's Headstart, Gordon said the three-day deadline is to prevent PhilHealth's debt from ballooning once again and cause delays in Red Cross' purchase of new COVID-19 test kits from Beijing.
“When we submit the receipts that go with it such as records, pictures and results, they should pay in three days,” he said in mixed English and Filipino. “Otherwise, you see it goes very fast. We start testing today 5,000 and that's already about P15 million.”
Gordon said the P561 million is equivalent to more than 160,475 COVID-19 tests still unpaid by PhilHealth. Red Cross tests initially resumed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, with all laboratories continuing operations Wednesday.
The senator's remarks, however, seemed to have run in contrast with what he told a briefing last night, where he said he will leave it up to PhilHealth and the government for a deadline in settling its balance. PhilHealth had since vowed to fast track the release of its payment for the unpaid half a billion.
“They are responsibile for deaths that will happen, they are responsibile if there's a surge right now,” Gordon added. “There could be a surge in testing of positives. I pray it doesnt happen because this country could not afford another lockdown.”
The halt in Red Cross' screenings for nearly two weeks saw the country's overall testing capacity taking hit, with many individuals affected such as medical workers, returning OFWs, as well as those in mega swabbing facilities.
Before the organization's decision that resulted from PhilHealth's failure to settle its obligations, Red Cross had conducted tests on over a million Filipinos, out of the country's more than four million screened for the virus.
Government had intervened in an attempt to resolve the impasse including President Rodrigo Duterte who vowed that the state insurer's debt will soon be paid.
Malacañang, however, has sought to deny that government is heavily reliant on Red Cross, despite officials' admitting that the organization's outputs have been significant to the Philippines' screening capacity.