PhilHealth

Dialysis clinic chain denies involvement in PhilHealth corruption mess

JC Gotinga
Dialysis clinic chain denies involvement in PhilHealth corruption mess
B. Braun Avitum, a chain of dialysis centers, says its dealings with PhilHealth were all legitimate and done in good faith

The dialysis clinic chain B. Braun Avitum denied all allegations of irregularity brought up at the Senate’s recently concluded legislative investigation of alleged massive corruption in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation.

The dialysis clinic chain B. Braun Avitum denied all allegations of irregularity brought up at the Senate’s recently concluded legislative investigation of alleged massive corruption in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation.

In a statement sent to Rappler on Friday, August 21, the company said it was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), it has no “ghost dialysis machines,” and all its transactions are “legitimate and above-board.”

It also denied having dealings with the Balanga Rural Bank, which had been the recipient of questionable fund transfers from PhilHealth amounting to P9.7 million in 2019.

The company said it has rendered 589 treatments to 135 COVID-19 patients in its hospital-based clinics.

What were the allegations?

In the Senate’s legislative hearings of the PhilHealth mess on August 4, 11, and 18, B. Braun Avitum figured in the following alleged irregularities:

  • Several of its freestanding branches received a total P45 million from the controversial Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM), which was meant for hospitals catering to COVID-19 patients;
  • Senator Panfilo Lacson said the amount of money it received from the IRM exceeds its daily capacity for dialysis treatments. Does B. Braun Avitum have “ghost dialysis machines?” Lacson asked;
  • It was allegedly the intended recipient of the P9.7 million transferred to the Balanga Rural Bank in about a dozen transactions in 2019. It is unclear who owns the recipient bank account;
  • Lacson said the company has no record of incorporation with the SEC.
How did the company respond to the allegations?

The company said it applied to avail of IRM funds “in good faith, based on guidelines from PhilHealth,” adding it did not misrepresent its application “to be used for the treatment of CoVID+ (sic) patients.”

Of the 18 IRM fund applications it submitted, only 5 were approved. This corresponded with the number of its freestanding branches found to have received the total of P45 million.

The company said it conducts more than 27,000 dialysis treatments of over 3,000 patients every month in its 25 branches in Luzon, which operate 6 days a week. Lacson had assumed the clinics only operate 5 days a week, which led him to conclude it received more money from the IRM than it needed.

On the issue involving the Balanga Rural Bank, B. Braun Avitum explained that the P9.7 million were payments for legitimate reimbursement claims for dialysis treatments already rendered at the time.

The money was supposed to be transferred to Deutsche Bank in May 2019, but PhilHealth said it was inadvertently credited to the Balanga Rural Bank.

B. Braun Avitum confirmed its nominated bank is Deutsche Bank Manila, and this is where PhilHealth reimbursements to the company have always been transferred.

The company said it is “in no way involved in the PhilHealth credit of P9.7 million to a rural bank in Balanga, Bataan.”

“We do not own a bank account in any rural bank in Balanga, Bataan,” it added.

The company reiterated its earlier statement that it has been registered with the SEC since January 2002 as Philippine Renal Care Incorporated. It is a subsidiary of B. Braun Medical Supplies, a German company that opened in the Philippines 34 years ago, it said.

In one of the Senate hearings, Lacson said the SEC only found a record of “B. Braun Medical Supplies” in its registry when the senators office inquired about B. Braun Avitum. – Rappler.com

JC Gotinga

JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.