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Philippine Red Cross chairman and Senator Richard Gordon / MB

PhilHealth's virus test kits overpriced

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The Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) bought overpriced COVID-19 test kits in the earlier part of the pandemic response, Philippine Red Cross chairman and Senator Richard Gordon said in a report by GMA News.

Gordon said the state health insurer has been convincing the PRC to lower the price for COVID-19 tests which is now at P3,500, and offered to let the organization use the test kits it has procured.

"Ipinipilit nila sa amin na tanggapin 'yung mga binili nila na talagang ang dami-dami baka mag-expire. Sasabihin ko na, overpriced. Ipinipilit nila sa amin.  I don't want to be involved with anything that is overpriced baka pati kami maisama pa," he said in an interview on CNN Philippines.

The PhilHealth has been nagging the PRC regarding this offer about two to three months ago, according to the senator.

"Namili sila ng maraming test kits and I can understand noon umpisa, they bought an awful lot of test kits. Di ko na sasabihin kung ano ang presyo, bahala na ang gobyerno doon... Pinipilit nila 'yan. Two months ago pa 'yan, 3 months ago. Ibaba raw namin [ang presyo], ibibigay daw sa amin," he said.

Gordon, who leads the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, said he would leave it to other government authorities to investigate the matter.

He said it was also him who informed Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon about the "overpriced" COVID-19 testing package of PhilHealth in the earlier part of the year.

Drilon asked the Department of Health to review the state health insurer's pricing which reached P8,150 in May. Soon after, the price was lowered to P4,200.

The COVID-19 testing package rate of PhilHealth has gone down to P3,409 as of June. This is the price if all services for testing are procured and provided by the testing laboratory.

Gordon mentioned the issue after PhilHealth failed to fulfill its promise of paying its P1 billion debt to the humanitarian organization on Monday.

The senator said he was disappointed that new PhilHealth chief Dante Gierran did not live up to this commitment.

"I know Dante. I thought he was my friend. But when a friend lies to me and promises that he would pay, and he doesn't pay to the prejudice of our people, iba nang usapan 'yan," Gordon said.

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