Press Release
November 3, 2020

Bong Go pushes for just and equitable price range for COVID-19 testing, reiterates that the test is a "necessity that must be available, accessible and affordable to all"

Senator Christopher "Bong" Go appealed in an interview on Monday, November 2, to the national government to ensure the availability, accessibility and affordability of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing.

"Necessary commodity na ang COVID testing sa pang araw araw nating buhay habang may pandemya pa at wala pang vaccine. Kaya importante na masiguro ng gobyerno na may access ang lahat ng mga Pilipino dito, mayaman man o mahirap," he stressed.

The Senator, also the Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, suggested that a regulated price range that is just and equitable can be imposed to prevent overpricing.

"Kaya nga po dapat magkaroon tayo ng tamang price range... Dapat mayroon pong mapagkasunduang polisiya na approved by the President para magkaroon na po ng mekanismo na makapaglalagay ng ceiling sa presyo po ng COVID-19 testing," he suggested.

According to the Senator, the COVID-19 testing is already an essential part of the country's recovery efforts to make sure everyone is healthy prior to being exposed to others in the workplace. This is why he emphasized that "the government must step in and ensure the said price range is just, equitable and sensitive to all stakeholders."

"Dapat mayroong mekanismo na dapat nakalatag upang gawing affordable, available at accessible ang COVID-19 testing sa lahat ng mga Pilipinong nangangailangan nito," he said.

He said that the government must take a more proactive role in putting a price range for such services since COVID-19 testing is now "undoubtedly a necessity and not a luxury", especially for the poor and working class.

"Palagi rin nating unahin ang kapakanan at buhay ng mga mahihirap at pinaka-nangangailangan ng tulong. Huwag natin silang pabayaan dahil sila ang kailangang makabalik sa normal na pamumuhay upang maiangat ang kabuhayan nila," he said.

He also urged testing providers to be transparent with their pricing scheme, emphasizing, "Kailangan din po nating siguruhin na fully informed ang mga Pilipino sa component costs ng medical services at procedures kaugnay sa COVID-19. Dapat alam nila kung para saan ang binabayaran nila at saan napupunta ang pera nila."

Go also lamented that no one should be allowed to abuse the market and make testing a lucrative business, as he urged health service providers to prioritize people's lives over profits.

"Dapat, wala ring dapat mang-abuso at gawing negosyo ito. Parati nating uunahin ang buhay ng bawat Pilipino, at hindi dapat ito pagkakitaan ng iilan lamang," he continued.

Earlier this week, the Senator was alarmed by reports of increasing disparity on the prices of COVID-19 testing citing that the Department of Health reported a number of facilities that impose additional fees to immediately facilitate the processing of the test and expedite results. Another news report also broke out after a person was compelled to shell out almost P20,000 for a COVID-19 test whose result may be available in a matter of hours only.

"Sa panahon ng krisis, pantay dapat ang serbisyo lalo na pagdating sa kalusugan. Mahirap man o mayaman, dapat may access sila sa COVID-19 testing," Go said, noting there have been a lot of people who opt to be tested in private facilities because of faster turnaround times. However, not everyone can afford this.

Go emphasized that most of those who are highly vulnerable and are exposed to the highest levels of risk come from the poor and marginalized sectors of the society. Hence, they need equitable access to such testing the most.

"Karapatan ng bawat Pilipino ang maayos na kalusugan at equal access to health care services. Ang trabaho namin ay para i-safeguard ang interes ng mga Pilipino, lalong lalo na sa usaping pangkalusugan," he added.

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