Dialysis center tagged as 'conduit' of PhilHealth anomalies denies alleged irregularities

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 13 2020 02:22 PM | Updated as of Sep 10 2020 04:58 PM

MANILA (UPDATED/CORRECTED) -- Dialysis center B. Braun Avitum on Thursday denied it was involved in anomalous transactions after a Senate investigation found that it received millions of COVID-19 funding from the Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth) even when it was not catering to coronavirus patients.

B. Braun Avitum Philippines was accused of receiving some P45 million through PhilHealth's interim reimbursement mechanism (IRM), while hospitals filled with COVID-19 patients have yet to be refunded for their coronavirus-related expenses.

"The company maintains that it has not engaged in any illegal or unethical activities," the statement read.

"As a medical technology company with a global history of 180 years and having served the Filipino people for 34 years, B. Braun Avitum holds itself strictly to the highest standards of integrity in all its business dealings," it said.

The company belied allegations that it was not registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), saying that it was originally incorporated as Philippine Renal Care, Inc. on January 24, 2002.

"In each and every one of our business transactions, we adhere to the most stringent standards of integrity and professionalism," it said.

"Compliance is more than simply complying with laws and requirements. It also embraces ethical values of integrity, fairness, and sustainability," it said.

While the company did not explain why its dialysis center received funds intended for COVID-19 patients, B. Braun Avitum defended the disbursement, saying it benefitted "dialysis patients who require regular treatment."

"Such treatment must not be interrupted despite the coronavirus situation, as our patients' lives will be compromised," the company said.

"B. Braun Avitum is deeply appreciative of the IRM funds received from PhilHealth," it said.

The dialysis center, which originated from Germany, ended its statement by saying that it is ready to cooperate in the Senate investigation on alleged PhilHealth corruption.

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

Incorporators of the company are expected to be summoned to the Senate next week to answer queries on how P9.7 million in funds from PhilHealth, supposed to be credited to its Deutsche Bank account, ended up in an account at the Balanga Rural Bank.

(Editor's note: Our initial story uploaded on August 13, 2020 erroneously reported that B. Braun Avitum had an account in the Balanga Rural Bank which received around P9.7 million from PhilHealth. In a September 9, 2020 e-mail to ABS-CBN News, B. Braun Avitum said: "...our company does not keep any bank account with the Balanga Rural Bank.... It is quite clear that the Senate Committee report identified the owner of the bank account as Rural Bank of Balanga, and not B. Braun Avitum as stated in your summary. It is an important distinction, because it demonstrates that the company is not involved in any anomaly within the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, and in fact is the aggrieved party in the Balanga bank incident." news.abs-cbn.com regrets the error.)