PRC’s stoppage of PhilHealth-funded COVID-19 tests affected DOH, exec admits
MANILA, Philippines — The decision of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) to stop its COVID-19 testing paid for by the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) has also affected the Department of Health (DOH).
DOH spokesperson and Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire admitted this Thursday, during an online press briefing.
“Di po tayo makakaila na malaki po ang contribution ng Philippine Red Cross sa ating daily outputs or the outputs for our laboratories,” she said.
(We cannot deny that the Philippine Red Cross has a big contribution to our daily outputs or the outputs of our laboratories.)
“Makikita po natin na malalaki po talaga ‘yung mga laboratoryo nila, ‘yung kapasidad, and it’s distributed across the different areas of the country.”
(We can see that their laboratories are big, as well as its capacity, and it’s distributed across the different areas of the country.)
“So yes, we were affected by the stopping of the operations of the Philippine Red Cross,” she added.
On October 14, PRC decided to stop its PhilHealth-funded COVID-19 tests as the state health insurer failed to settle its outstanding balance of P930 million.
This means it will no longer accept specimens from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), those arriving in airports and seaports, individuals through the mega swabbing facilities and through the local government units, frontline health workers and government employees, and others included in DOH’s expanded testing guidelines for COVID-19 testing.
This also left more than 6,000 OFWs stranded in various quarantine facilities in Metro Manila since results of COVID-19 tests now takes longer, according to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello.
Early this week, President Rodrigo Duterte assured PRC that the government will pay PhilHealth’s P930-million debt.
Since the issue remains unresolved, Vergeire said 11 government facilities process COVID-19 specimens for now.
“And merong mga private laboratories, which, they have expressed their interest na sila ay tutulong sa gobyerno para maibsan itong mga nagkakaroon tayo ng mga bottlenecks because of the stoppage of the operations of the Philippine Red Cross,” she said.
(And there are private laboratories, which, they have expressed their interest that they will help the government to ease the bottlenecks because of the stoppage of the operations of the Philippine Red Cross.)
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