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Roque to refer alleged overpriced COVID-19 testing packages to OP

May 21, 2020 - Thursday 6:05 PM by PNA

Article Banner Image COVID-19 TESTING PACKAGES. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque holds his regular virtual press conference on Thursday (May 21, 2020). Roque said he will refer the alleged overpriced PhilHealth COVID-19 testing packages to the Office of the Special Assistant to the President. (Screenshot)

MANILA – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque will forward to the Office of the Special Assistant to the President (OSAP) allegations on overpricing in the cost of Philippine Health Insurance Corporation's (PhilHealth) COVID-19 testing package.

In a virtual presser, Roque refused to further comment on the issue since he served as legal counsel of two complainants who revealed alleged anomalies in PhilHealth last year.

“May conflict of interest na po ako diyan dahil ako mismo nagsampa ng kasong kriminal laban sa mga kurakot sa PhilHealth (I have a conflict of interest there because I was the one who filed cases against the corrupt officials,” he said.

In February, Roque also filed before the Office of the Ombudsman a graft complaint against PhilHealth officials over the alleged non-remittance of millions worth of contribution from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Roque said he will instead refer the alleged overpriced PhilHealth testing packages to Undersecretary Jesus Melchor Quitain, who heads the OSAP which is under the Office of the President (OP).

“Ifo-forward ko po itong bagong akusasyon sa office po ni Sec. Quitain dahil si Sec. Quitain din po, siya yung gumawa ng naunang imbestigasyon sa PhilHealth na nagresulta sa pagtanggal ng ilang mga miyembro ng board of directors ng PhilHealth (I will forward this new accusation to the office of Sec. Quitain because it was Quitain who led the investigation on PhilHealth which resulted in the removal of some members of the board of directors of PhilHealth),” he said.

During a Senate hearing on Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon raised concern that the PhilHealth may have overpriced by PHP8.3 billion the cost of its testing package.

Citing Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Drilon said the PhilHealth had earmarked PHP8,150 for each person tested in a public or private laboratory which cost more than the commercially available test kits from China, which usually cost PHP1,500 each.

He said that PhilHealth could be held criminally liable if it pursues COVID-19 testing packages with jacked up rates.

Drilon said the “reasonable price” of a testing package must only be PHP4,000.

“Clearly, there is potential overpayment of PHP4,150 for every test paid by PhilHealth. That is not right and that is unforgivable,” he said.

Duque, in the same Senate hearing, said testing packages cost between PHP2,710 to PHP8,150 depending on how accredited laboratories procured the testing. (PNA)

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