Gov’t may pay half of PhilHealth debt this month – Roque

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    GOVERNMENT is expected to pay at least half of the almost P1 billion the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) owes the Philippine Red Cross, either this week or next week, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said yesterday.

    He said the word of President Duterte should be enough guarantee for the Red Cross.

    “I can’t say for sure (when it will be paid) because it’s a matter of paper pushing. But the President has already committed to PhilHealth that it will be paid, and so I think it will be paid, if not this week, then next week at the soonest,” he said in an interview with CNN Philippines.

    Red Cross last week stopped processing tests for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) that are chargeable to PhilHealth because of the state agency’s debt. It covers some 25 percent of all the COVID-19 testing, including those on returning and repatriated overseas Filipino workers, and health workers.

    There are 112 government accredited RT-PCR laboratories and 35 licensed Genexpert laboratories that conduct and process COVID tests.

    Roque said while the payment will be partial, 50 percent is already “substantial, you’re talking of half a billion (pesos).”

    He said he “believes” the Philippine Red Cross has agreed to the initial 50 percent payment and “I believe that there’s now an understanding between the government and Red Cross that the services will continue.”

    He said he is not aware of the date as to when PRC will resume the administering and processing of (COVID-19) tests.

    Roque said PhilHealth recently asked Red Cross to lower its rates for test kits.

    Roque said lower rates are expected especially if the kits being used, along with the machines being used, came from donations.

    Red Cross on Tuesday said it is offering prepaid COVID-19 testing for Filipinos arriving from abroad.

    Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has expressed concern over the suspension of Red Cross testing, noting some 100,000 more overseas workers are expected to arrive towards this year.