Manila Bulletin

PhilHealth has money to pay the P930 M it owes Red Cross – Gier­ran

- By JEF­FREY DAMICOG and ANALOU DE VERA Business · Health Care · International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement · Philippine National Red Cross · China · Nigeria · Philippines · Richard Gordon · Philippines Department of Budget and Management · RT · Philippines Department of Health · Health Insurance

The Philip­pine Health In­surance Cor­po­ra­tion (PhilHealth) has as­sured that it has the money and will to pay what it owes the Philip­pine Red Cross (PRC) for con­duct­ing tests for the coron­avirus dis­ease (COVID-19).

“Baba­yaran ta­laga ng PhilHealth yan (PhilHealth will pay what it owes PRC). We have money for that,” PhilHealth Pres­i­dent and Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Dante Gier­ran said dur­ing an in­ter­view with CNN Philip­pines on Fri­day.

“We rec­og­nize the help and sup­port of the PRC,” he added.

Gier­ran made this as­sur­ance af­ter the PRC de­cided to stop COVID-19 test­ing due to the un­paid 1930 mil­lion the PhilHealth owed it for the tests that were con­ducted.

He said he and other PhilHealth of­fi­cials have al­ready be­gun talks with PRC chair­man Sen. Richard Gor­don and other PRC of­fi­cials con­cern­ing the pay­ment of the debts.

How­ever, Gier­ran said the amount that PhilHealth will have to pay will be re­duced since the costs of COVID-19 test kits have al­ready dropped to 13,409 from 13,500.

Gier­ran said he is also wait­ing for the le­gal opin­ion of the Depart­ment of Bud­get and Man­age­ment (DBM) over the Me­moran­dum of Agree­ment (MOA) that the pre­vi­ous PhilHealth man­age­ment had with the PRC for the con­duct of COVID-19 tests.

He pointed out that the MOA should fol­low Repub­lic Act 9184, the Gov­ern­ment Pro­cure­ment Re­form Act.

Gier­ran said PRC was picked un­der emer­gency pro­cure­ment bid­ding in­stead of un­der­go­ing the re­quired com­pet­i­tive pub­lic bid­ding un­der the law.

“In reg­u­lar pro­cure­ment, what is re­quired is com­pet­i­tive bid­ding which should rather be re­laxed un­der the emer­gency pro­cure­ment bid­ding. But then, even if it is re­laxed, there are still re­quire­ments to be done,” he said.

Gier­ran said his le­gal team found that the MOA did not fol­low the pro­cure­ment law due to the ab­sence of publi­ca­tion at the Gov­ern­ment Pro­cure­ment Pol­icy Board (GPPB) and at the PhilHealth web­site.

Re­gard­less of whether the DBM will have a neg­a­tive le­gal po­si­tion, Gier­ran re­it­er­ated that PhilHealth will pay its debt to PRC.

In a state­ment on Thurs­day, the state health in­surer said it is now in close co­or­di­na­tion with the PRC to “thresh out is­sues per­tain­ing to the said part­ner­ship so the PRC can im­me­di­ately re­sume ac­com­mo­dat­ing RT-PCR tests for pri­or­ity sec­tors that will be paid for by PhilHealth.”

The PRC had ear­lier an­nounced that it would no longer re­ceive spec­i­mens for test­ing that are funded by PhilHealth, par­tic­u­larly those of re­turn­ing over­seas Filipino work­ers, those ar­riv­ing in air­ports and sea­ports, those in mega swab­bing fa­cil­i­ties through lo­cal gov­ern­ment units, and oth­ers in­cluded in the ex­panded test­ing guide­lines of the Depart­ment of Health.

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