Dialysis center denies owning bank account where PhilHealth deposited P9.7M

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 21 2020 01:05 PM

MANILA - Dialysis center B. Braun Avitum on Friday denied that it owned a bank account in Bataan province where the Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth) allegedly deposited some P9.7 million as payment for the dialysis center's services.

Payments to B. Braun Avitum "have always been deposited online" to Deutsche Bank in Manila, the company said in a statement.

"B. Braun Avitum 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 bank in Balanga, Bataan," the statement read.

Senate hearings earlier showed that PhilHealth officials from Cagayan deposited P9.7 million to the account of "B. Braun Avitum" in the Balanga Rural Bank covering the "reimbursement of claims for 12 consecutive periods" from May 2 to 22, 2020.

B. Braun Avitum denied that it was charging for the dialysis of non-existent of "ghost" patients.

"B. Braun Avitum has absolutely no ghost machines in any of the center we operate," the company said, noting that 25 dialysis centers in Luzon provide at least 27,000 treatments to 3,000 patients.

The company also belied allegations that it claimed to cater to COVID-19 patients to get advance deposits from PhilHealth through the interim reimbursement mechanism (IRM), which prepositions payments to health facilities affected by "fortuitous" or unforeseen calamities.

"B. Braun Avitum applied to avail of the Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM) fund in good faith, based on guidelines from PhilHealth," it said, noting that only 5 of its 18 IRM applications were approved.

"The company did not misrepresent our application for IRM funds to be used for the treatment of coronavirus patients," it said.

B. Braun Avitum was accused of being the repository of PhilHealth's illegal disbursements after investigations showed that the dialysis center received millions of COVID-19 funds even when it was not catering to coronavirus patients.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson had argued that dialysis treatments and maternity care services should not be part of the IRM since these are not considered as "fortuitous" events.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has ordered a review of the IRM after conceding to senators that there may be something wrong in its implementation.

Earlier this week, the Senate terminated its investigation into alleged irregularities in PhilHealth, saying PhilHealth executives should just appear before the Ombudsman and the Department of Justice, which are also looking into the case.