Zubiri wants regional gov't dialysis centers instead of reimbursing private clinics

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 12 2020 06:42 PM | Updated as of Aug 12 2020 06:43 PM

Senate Majority Leader Migz Zubiri handles the legislative agenda of the Senate during the opening of the 2nd Regular Session of the 18th Congress on July 27, 2020. Joseph Vidal, Senate PRIB

MANILA - Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri on Wednesday said he would file a bill that would create regional dialysis centers after the Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth) and several kidney treatment facilities were involved in allegedly anomalous schemes.

The fund that PhilHealth uses to allegedly support private dialysis centers should be used to put up government-run facilities, Zubiri said in an online press conference.

"Why privatize it (fund) if the government can do the same? We can compete with the private [dialysis centers]," he said.

"We are not going to stop private [centers] but let us focus on government centers na sila na magtayo para doon pupunta ang mahihirap (that they can build so that's where the poor can go)," he said.

Government health care facilities are mandated to report to state auditors on how funds are spent, compared to private institutions that could be used as receptacles of fraudulent schemes, the Senate Majority Leader said.

"One of their favorite institutions are free-standing dialysis centers because, our insiders told me, that it's easier to connect with the owners and come up with special favors," he said.

"Talagang nagkakaroon ng favoritism dahil mabilis ang rebate o kickback [sa dialysis centers]," he said.

(There's really favoritism because the they get quick rebates or kickbacks.)

A Senate hearing earlier found that PhilHealth has disbursed about P45 million in COVID-19 funds to various branches of B. Braun Avitum, even if the dialysis center is not catering to coronavirus patients.

Two Cagayan region officials were also accused of depositing PhilHealth funds to B. Braun Avitum accounts in a rural bank beyond their jurisdiction, even "without demand" for payment.

Last year, the accreditation of WellMed Dialysis Center was revoked after it was revealed that the clinic had been reimbursing the claims of dead or non-existent patients.