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Gordon: PhilHealth still owes Red Cross P380M for COVID-19 testing

Philippine Red Cross (PRC) chairman and CEO Richard Gordon said Wednesday the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) still owes the humanitarian organization some P380 million for the COVID-19 tests it conducted at the height of the pandemic.

Gordon disclosed this during the Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum where he was discussing the PRC’s pandemic response and the ways moving forward now that the World Health Organization has declared an end to COVID-19 being a global health emergency.

“May utang pa sa’min ang gobyerno [the government still owes us money]—P380 million [from PhilHealth],” Gordon said.

Asked for a comment on the matter, PhilHealth Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Eli Dino Santos said he could not yet confirm Gordon's claim as the state health insurer still has to reconcile its data with the PRC.

He said PhilHealth has already reached out to the PRC to discuss the matter, hopefully within the day or tomorrow.

“We are setting up a meeting with Red Cross to reconcile our records, both Red Cross and PhilHealth, to determine kung saan galing ‘yung P380 million na unpaid claims [where the P380 million unpaid claims came from],” Santos told GMA News Online.

In October 2020, PRC halted conducting COVID-19 tests chargeable to PhilHealth after the latter failed to settle its outstanding balance amounting to nearly P1 billion. PRC resumed testing weeks later after PhilHealth settled a portion of the balance.

“We did stop… Kasi paano naman, volunteer kami. Do we have money from the government? Wala kaming bayad kung hindi kami binabayaran, but nakalagay sa law na if we do services to the government, we can have the recovery cost,” Gordon said.

(We did stop... We are volunteers. Do we have money from the government? We don’t have money if we are not being paid, but it is stated in the law that if we do services to the government, we can have the recovery cost.)

As to the end to the public health emergency of international concern, Gordon said the Philippines still needs to continue being alert considering the rising new COVID-19 cases anew.

“We have to be alert. All our radar and antenna on public health must be full-time because if it gets back, mahihirapan na naman tayo so mabuti na maunahan na agad ‘yan [we're going to have a hard time again so it's better to get ahead of that right away]. And now that business is open and more people are coming in, the more you should intensify your intelligence gathering,” he said.

Department of Health (DOH) officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire on Tuesday also called on the public not to be complacent as the pandemic is still not over even after the WHO declaration. — RSJ, GMA Integrated News