Lawmaker demands probe into massive healthcare deal

amil Lawmaker demands probe into massive healthcare deal
Congressman Ivan Valente. Photo: Marina Ramos/CD

Left-wing Congressman Ivan Valente filed a request to the Federal Prosecution Office for a thorough investigation into the conveyance of over 337,000 individual healthcare plans from Amil — one of Brazil’s biggest HMOs — to a recently-created investment fund. The request was filed on Friday and has not yet been addressed by prosecutors.

The UnitedHealth Group, which purchased Amil in 2012, paid BRL 3 billion (USD 581 million) to investment fund Fiord Capital (which has no prior experience with healthcare) in December to take over its portfolio of individual plans — which are under control of another company under UnitedHealth’s umbrella, called APS.

In January, Amil transferred its collective plans (family and corporate) to Sobam, another firm within the same group, based in Rio Grande do Sul.

Last week, regulators suspended the deal, demanding Amil remain a shareholder of APS for the time being. The sale transfers all responsibility to uphold contractual obligations with clients to the new controllers, and the National Supplementary Health Agency (ANS) wants guarantees that the buyers of the Amil portfolio have the expertise and financial means to continue providing health services without interruption.

In his investigation request, which The Brazilian Report obtained, Mr. Valente argues that the suspension of the deal is not enough to protect the interests of consumers. He says the evidence indicates UnitedHealth Group will leave Brazil and “rid itself of its commitments to almost 340,000 clients.”

“Due to the lack of financial guarantees from the fund in question, or proof that it would have the means to manage the portfolio, it is inevitable to conclude that UnitedHealth is preparing a veritable time bomb for Brazilian consumers, which will only go off once it zeroes its positions in the country.”

UPDATE: In a statement, the UnitedHealth Group said it is a “long-term investor in Brazil, a position that hasn’t altered since its arrival in the country back in 2012. Therefore, it has no intention of leaving the Brazilian health market, even less so of selling Amil or [its] main hospitals.”

“Unlike what has been said, our healthcare plan and vertically integrated hospital operations are not for sale.”