Health scheme for APL patients in deep freeze

Health scheme for APL patients in deep freeze

Above Poverty Line (APL) families rejoiced when the State government launched a scheme to offer them tertiary medical care in super-speciality hospitals at 10 per cent cost. But six months later, despite claims of its launch in the State budget, the “Rajiv Arogya Bhagya” is yet to materialise as big corporate hospitals are reportedly asking the government to go slow.

The scheme is designed to offer APL ration-card holders subsidised treatment for seven major diseases. Health and Family Welfare Minister U T Khader says about 40 hospitals and medical colleges statewide will be part of the scheme. But he is not sure about the rest. “A meeting has been scheduled with the private hospitals next month. I will not force anyone,” he told Deccan Herald. 

Informed sources reveal that several big hospitals in Bangalore are concerned that the scheme will severely cut into their profits, and its guidelines will impose strict checks and balances on hitherto unregulated practices . This could prove detrimental to revenue generation. As an independent health expert contended, the scheme will verify the costs in different hospitals for the same surgery, and seek standardised rates.

Currently, the total medical charges for a bypass surgery, for instance, greatly varies from hospital to hospital. “Though the big corporate hospitals are similar in quality and infrastructure, the rates could vary from Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 3 lakh. The charges for the surgeon, room, nurses and drugs are very different. Why should this be the case? The  scheme will ask such tough questions, which the hospitals want to avoid,” explains the expert.

Karnataka State Hospitals’ Forum had complained about poor reimbursement and bogus BPL card-holders seeking subsidised treatment under the Vajpayee Arogyasri and Yeshasvini schemes. The hospitals contend they are offered only a third of a surgery’s actual cost. Since BPL patients have increased, cross-subsidising the schemes with paying patients has also become tough. However, health experts contend that charges were fixed in consultation with these hospitals, and even hiked last year.

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