December 19, 2019 1:43:31 am
Several private hospitals empanelled under the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) have decided to meet in the Capital on Thursday to take a call on whether and when they will suspend cashless services to beneficiaries of the healthcare programme. In the meantime, an association representing these hospitals has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighting issues with unpaid dues from CGHS as well as other healthcare schemes like Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS).
CGHS promises comprehensive medical care to approximately 35 lakh Central government employees and pensioners. Ex- and sitting Members of Parliament, pensioners, freedom fighters and employees serving at CGHS, Directorate General of Health Services and the Health Ministry are entitled to cashless services at empanelled providers. Pensioners and their dependents account for around 11 lakh of registered beneficiaries, government sources earlier said. It is not clear how many beneficiaries fall under the other categories eligible for cashless services.
Over 18 lakh beneficiaries across the country used services under ECHS in 2018-19, shows government data.
“All the leaders in cashless services under CGHS (major hospitals) are assembling tomorrow morning to deliberate whether we should suspend cashless services and, if so, what the date (to stop this facility) should be,” said Girdhar Gyani, director general, Association of Healthcare Providers (India), or AHPI.
This includes large hospitals like Max, Medanta and Fortis, which provide cashless services to CGHS beneficiaries, a majority of whom are in Delhi, he told The Indian Express. These hospitals are members of AHPI, which represents around 9,000 hospitals across the country.
“We have tried to bring the plight of our members (private hospitals) to the attention of the Prime Minister also. We wrote to him today (Wednesday),” said Gyani.
“Thousands of crores in dues have long been pending from CGHS as well as other schemes like ECHS. The CGHS rates have also not been revised since 2014, which is making it even more difficult for hospitals to function under this scheme,” he added.
The Health Ministry has not been approached by any hospital, hospital group or association informing it of plans to exit CGHS or stop cashless treatment to beneficiaries, Alok Saxena, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, told The Indian Express. “This year so far, around Rs 1,400 crore have been released to service providers for cashless services. More payments are under process.”
In October, The Indian Express reported that several hospitals were contemplating the move to stop providing cashless services to CGHS patients citing frustration with delays in payment of dues from the government. The Health Ministry, at that time, had already sent a request for additional funds of over Rs 1,000 crore for CGHS in the next Budget and a majority of these funds were expected to be used “towards payment of hospital bills and procurement of medicines”, senior government officials had said then.
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