Dialysis provider named in Senate's PhilHealth probe vows cooperation
This undated photo shows members lining up for PhilHealth benefits at an unnamed hospital.
The STAR/File
Dialysis provider named in Senate's PhilHealth probe vows cooperation
Bella Perez-Rubio (Philstar.com) - August 13, 2020 - 3:59pm

MANILA, Philippines — A dialysis provider that has been linked to alleged anomalies in PhilHealth's cash advances to healthcare institutions on Thursday responded to concerns raised by senators in the ongoing probe.

B. Braun Avitum Philippines, in an email to reporters, said that it was "unfazed" by the issues brought up by Senator Panflo Lacson and former PhilHealth anti-fraud legal officer Thorrsson Keith. 

"The company maintains that it has not engaged in any illegal or unethical activities, citing the reputation that it has established for decades."

In a statement, the company confirmed that it received funds from PhilHealth from its Interim Reimbursement Mechanism, which is intended for healthcare institutions hit by calamitous or "fortuitous events."

"During the on-going pandemic, the funds made available through the [IRM] to support the operations of all Philippine healthcare institutions (HCIs) have enabled B. Braun Avitum to continue to provide renal services to dialysis patients who require regular treatment. Such treatment must not be interrupted despite the coronavirus situation, as our parents' lives will be compromised."

 

Lacson last Tuesday alleged that PhilHealth's IRM was not being released to the appropriate hospitals amid the coronavirus crisis.

According to the senator, PhilHealth released "hundreds of millions" to dialysis centers and maternity care providers but could not release P19 million to the Ospital ng Maynila which was accepting COVID-19 cases.

He flagged, in particular, P45 million released to B. Braun Avitum Philippines.

PhilHealth president and CEO Ricardo Morales defended this by saying that the company was turning away patients due to a lack of funds.

Lacson, however, said funding to the dialysis center should not have been taken from the IRM, which is meant for calamities.

The senator again mentioned the dialysis provider as the Senate resumed its probe this week, claiming that there is no B Braun Avitum dialysis center registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

"Our company was registered with the [SEC] on 11th December 1985 as B. Braun Medical Supplies Inc., whereas B. Braun Avitum a wholly-owned subsidiary of B. Braun Medical Supplies, Inc. was originally incorporated as Philippine Renal Care, Inc. on 24th January 2002...and later renamed as B. Braun Avitum Philippines, Inc.," the company said on Thursday.

The dialysis provider added that it "owns and manages 25 dialysis centers across Luzon."

"We are one with the government in its quest for transparency and good governance, and will extend full cooperation in this endeavor."

Former PhilHealth official-turned-whistleblower Thorrsson Keith last Tuesday alleged that executives of the state-run agency have stolen P15 billion from its funds.

"What we found at PhilHealth is the crime of the year due to the syndication of the distribution of cash advance, the interim reimbursement mechanism, and the repeated overpricing of purchased IT equipment," he told the Senate in Filipino.

According to Keith, the agency made unwarranted claims payments to select private hospitals amounting to hundreds of millions of pesos.

The anti-fraud legal officer's resignation, which cited "widespread corruption" within the agency, prompted the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Ombudsman, and an inter-agency task force led by the Justice Department to conduct separate probes into allegations of corruption, irregularities and mismanagement against PhilHealth executives.

COVID-19 NOVEL CORONAVIRUS PHILIPPINE HEALTH INSURANCE CORPORATION
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