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PhilHealth mafia’s new front? Senate wants closer look at B Braun Avitum

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Before, it was WellMed. Now, is B. Braun Avitum Philippines Inc. the newest “front” of the mafia at the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth)?

Sen. Panfilo Lacson said Wednesday the Senate intends to find out as the chain of dialysis centers seems to get favorable treatment in getting funds from PhilHealth.

During Senate hearings on corruption at PhilHealth, B. Braun Avitum was found to have received P45 million from PhilHealth in Interim Reimbursement Mechanism funds for COVID-19 cases, even if it does not handle COVID patients – and even if it is not registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission as a company.

“It seems na merong in the case of B Braun Dialysis Center, talagang kitang kita may special treatment. Now we’re finding out, what’s so special with B Braun Dialysis Center?” Lacson told Senate reporters in a phone patch interview.

He also noted that during the Senate hearings, PhilHealth officials were uncomfortable discussing B. Braun Avitum.

“Tuwing paguusapan yan tahimik silang lahat, tikom ang bibig,” he said.

When asked if B. Braun is the new conduit to corruption after WellMed, Lacson said, “it seems like ganoon nga.”

“It seems like ganoon nga kasi ang situation ng WellMed noon parang ang pumalit sa kanya sa ibang scheme naman ang B Braun Avitum kasi maraming question. Ang WellMEd mas grabe yan kasi patay na ang pasyente ng dialysis naninigil pa. E nasaan ngayon ang involved sa WellMed? Na-promote. So sana naman ang involved sa B Braun kung meron man huwag din ma-promote uli. Parang vicious cycle ang nangyari.,” he said.

Lacson particularly questioned PhilHealth’s “protectiveness” of the dialysis chain’s bank account at a bank in Balanga, Bataan.

The issue involved PhilHealth’s payment to B. Braun Avitum going to the Balanga Rural Bank instead of the firm’s bank account in Deutsche Bank in Cagayan Valley.

Lacson noted the bank account had been the subject of an inadvertent remittal involving P9.7 million. Two PhilHealth officials went to Balanga to claim the amount and even offered to pay P49,000 in inconvenience fees.

“Kasi may interest sila, natatakot silang sumabog at sila maputukan. So very discreetly sinettle na lang nila using their own personal funds in the amount of P49K plus ang BRB,” Lacson said.

At the Senate’s Aug. 11 hearing on the PhilHealth mess, Lacson asked Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission Commissioner Greco Belgica for help in digging deeper into the account. The Senate had obtained the account number.

“Probably you can make representation with the Ombudsman to dig deeper into details of the account,” he said.

Lacson also said he asked Belgica to coordinate with the Ombudsman, which can coordinate with the Anti-Money Laundering Council to trigger an investigation.

“Madali ma-trace yan kung talagang ite-trace. But that’s beyond the power of the Senate. All we can do is summon the AMLC and kung ibibigay nila sa amin ang details ng account number, mate-trace natin sino nag-open ng account na yan,” he said.

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