Duterte seeks arrests and health insurer to revamp over dialysis scam

President Duterte ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to probe on the dialysis treatment scam.

MANILA: President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the arrest of those involved in a dialysis treatment scam that defrauded Philippine Health Insurance Corp., and plans a revamp of the state-run insurer for losing more than 150 billions pesos (US$2.89 billion) from fictitious claims and abuse.

“I will really go after this” and “I am ordering the National Bureau of Investigation” to take over, invite people and start making arrests, Duterte said Saturday during an interview in the television programme of his ally and Kingdom of Jesus Christ founder Apollo Quiboloy. The losses from the dialysis scam and other fraudulent claims are “totally unacceptable” and those involved must be prosecuted, Duterte said.

Duterte wants the bureau to probe the owners and employees of WellMed Dialysis & Laboratory Center Corp. along with hospitals where it worked that allowed the clinic to continue to ask PhilHealth for dialysis payments when patients had already died. He said that while there is no evidence yet, investigators should also look at government employees who may be part of the scam.

WellMed, a dialysis clinic based in Quezon City, exploited a loophole in PhilHealth’s claims and payments system that allowed the clinic from 2016 to receive payment for fictitious dialysis treatment of dead patients, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported, citing a former employee of the clinic. WellMed’s lawyers denied the allegation and countered that the fraud was perpetrated by the accuser in connivance with another employee, according to the Inquirer.

Duterte said he is considering revamping PhilHealth and introducing new accounting and management systems that will provide it with checks and balances to detect and prevent fraudulent medical claims.

Duterte also ordered the closure of Kapa Community Ministry International for allegedly collecting illegal investments through the use of religion. He said the ministry’s operation was a clear pyramid scheme, adding that its dubious return on investment of 30,000 pesos a month for a 100,000 peso investment was too “good to be true.”