AS CONFIRMED cases of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) continue to climb in Eastern Visayas, authorities have assured that tests conducted at the government-run molecular laboratory are done for free.
“There is no truth, however, to the misinformation that fees are being collected, that payments must be made, or that a recommendation from a political office is needed before one can get tested for Covid-19,” said Philip Jude Acidre, chief political officer of Tingog party-list, who helped initiate the establishment of the region’s first testing center at the old Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center (EVRMC) in Tacloban City.
“However, there are protocols in place issued by the Department of Health (DOH) assigning the DOH-Regional Epidemiological Surveillance Unit (RESU) to facilitate those who need to avail of a RT-PCR test,” he added.
On Friday, May 15, four new confirmed cases of Covid-19 were reported out of the 156 sample results tested and released by the Eastern Visayas Covid-19 Testing Center.
The four cases were from Tarangnan, Samar, bringing the total to 19 cases in the said municipality alone.
Meanwhile, Acidre said that based from Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) guidelines, all reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests, including those in private health facilities, are currently reimbursable to the said government-owned and controlled corporation.
“Rates may vary only if the test kits, reagents, etc., are donated, or procured by the test center. In fact, the reimbursement is higher when the kits, reagents, and equipment were procured by the test center,” Acidre said.
“Therefore, no payment is needed from a person wanting to avail of a RT-PCR test, provided he or she goes through the proper channels. If and when a private health facility would charge any payment for the RT-PCR test, please ensure that the amount is already in excess of the reimbursable rate, which given the generous PhilHealth case rate should not be the case, unless the said facility have imposed an exorbitant rate,” the Tingog official added.
For those who could not afford such rates, Acidre said they only need to coordinate with the DOH-RESU so they could be referred to Eastern Visayas Covid-19 Testing Center.
“From the beginning of this crisis, Tingog party-list was very well aware, not only the importance of increasing our test capability and setting up our own testing center, but of the significant support that would be extended by the DOH and PhilHealth to those would undergo testing in the test centers - that is why since the second week of March 2020, we have channeled much of our resources for the Covid-19 response to the operationalization of our test center, where people can avail of the Covid-19 test for free,” said Acidre.
He reiterated to the public that “given the current setup, there is no need for and there is no truth that a politician or political office has to ‘cover’ in part or in full the cost of the RT-PCR test when in fact these services are being given for free.”
On Monday, May 11, Eastern Visayas Covid-19 testing center officially started its operation after getting the accreditation from DOH and Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).
The prime movers of the first regional Covid-19 testing center include DOH-Eastern Visayas through director Minerva Molon, Philippine Association of Medical Technologists, Inc. (Leyte-Biliran Chapter), Tingog party-list through Representative Yedda Marie Romualdez, the Office of Majority Leader Representative Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, EVRMC, and the Tacloban City Government, among others. (SunStar Philippines)