Senator Joel Villanueva on Monday said PhilHealth should foot the entire cost of COVID-19 testing for employees, which they are entitled to under the joint memorandum circular released by the Trade and Industry and Labor departments.
Chairing the Senate Committee on Labor, Villanueva pointed out in a statement that mandatory monthly contributions to PhilHealth are being shouldered by both employers and employees and it was only right if the state health insurer would step in to finance this service.
Under the Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) 20-04 of the Department of Trade and Industry, and Department of Labor and Employment, workers in the hospitality, tourism, and manufacturing sectors, as well as frontliners and economic priority employees, were to be given free swab tests.
"The COVID-19 testing must be at no cost to the employees," Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III had said
A program that would fast-track the testing and reimbursement process for such should be crafted by PhilHealth, according to Villanueva.
"The hesitation of employers to test their workers stems from the fact that there is a lot of uncertainty in PhilHealth’s ability to reimburse testing expenses," he said.
Villanueva also encouraged employers to follow the circular issued by the government.
"Hindi po tayo dapat mag-alinlangan na isailalim sa test ang ating mga empleyado. I-charge po natin ang gastos sa PhilHealth dahil obligasyon nila sa kanilang mga miyembro na tugunan ang pangangailangan, lalo na ngayong panahon ng pandemya," Villanueva said.
"Tuluyan pong malulumpo ang ating ekonomiya kahit na bahagya itong nakabukas kung magkakasakit ang ating mga manggagawa. Sa ngayon, tanging testing at contact tracing pa lang po ang epektibong paraan para bawasan ang risk ng pagkakahawa sa sakit," he added.
As of August 17, the Philippines recorded a total of 164,474 COVID-19 cases with 112,759 recoveries and 2,681 deaths.
Of the 49,034 active cases, 91.1 percent were mild, 6.5 percent were asymptomatic, one percent were severe, and 1.4 percent were critical. — DVM, GMA News