President Rodrigo Duterte has already agreed to defer the increase in Philhealth premiums, according to Senator Christopher Go.
Go said Monday he would urge his colleagues to amend the Universal Health Care Act to defer the scheduled increase in premiums for the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).
Under the law, the state health insurance agency will raise premiums starting this year.
Go said they could defer the higher premiums either by amending the UHC law or including it as a provision in the Bayanihan 3 bill that would allow the moving of statutory deadlines for payments required by law.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III welcomed Go's suggestion, saying the chamber can work to expedite the passage of the measure.
Meanwhile, Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) said PhilHealth should pay the bulk of its P762.8 million debt to the organization or it would stop its COVID-19 testing immediately.
"They should pay at least half a billion right away and then they can pay P200 million in one to three days," Gordon said in an interview on CNN-Philippines.
Now that the holidays are over, he said the COVID-19 tests that the PRC needs to facilitate are expected to reach an average of 6,000 to 7,000 daily.
Gordon, who earlier warned that the PRC's COVID-19 testing may be suspended again if PhilHealth won't be able to settle its mounting debt, expressed exasperation over the payment strategy of the state health insurer.
In a separate interview on Dobol B sa News TV, Gordon said he hoped that PhilHealth would avoid having the debt swell to P1 billion.
To continue providing COVID-19 testing and other services, the PRC needed the money to replenish its supplies, Gordon said.
He added that even during the holidays, the PRC continued with COVID-19 testing.
“PhilHealth’s failure to settle its debts on time is killing the Red Cross which is spending about P25 million daily for tests chargeable to the insurer,” Gordon said.
“The important thing is that materials must be replaced, and the salaries of our employees be paid," Gordon said in Filipino.
The Palace assured the PRC that PhilHealth’s debts would be settled.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said that certain verification and audit rules must be followed before settling the state health insurance corporation’s obligation to the Red Cross.
“PhiHealth is not a private organization. Verifications must be made, COA rules and regulations must be followed because PHilHealth is a government firm,” he said during an online press briefing.
He cited the government’s good track record of settling its PhilHealth debts.
“The President vouches that all debts of PhilHealth related to COVID tests will be paid,” Roque said.
COMMENT DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted on this Web site are not in any way endorsed by Manila Standard. Comments are views by manilastandard.net readers who exercise their right to free expression and they do not necessarily represent or reflect the position or viewpoint of manilastandard.net. While reserving this publication’s right to delete comments that are deemed offensive, indecent or inconsistent with Manila Standard editorial standards, Manila Standard may not be held liable for any false information posted by readers in this comments section.