The health ministry has no money left in the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) account for the next two months till funds according to the revised estimate are released. Having exhausted the Rs 1,600 crore that was initially allocated, the ministry has now asked for Rs 450 crore more.
The crisis in CGHS, one of the oldest health schemes run by the government, was precipitated by successive budget cuts, said sources.
Started in 1954, the CGHS — with approximately 30 lakh beneficiaries — covers retired and serving central government employees, MPs and their immediate families across 25 Indian cities. A total of 945 private hospitals and 165 diagnostic centres are empanelled with CGHS, which means that treatment in these hospitals for specified conditions are reimbursed by the government. Expenses at government hospitals are automatically covered for CGHS card holders.
“Funding for CGHS has been steadily going down, in 2013-14 it was Rs 1,832 crore, in 2014-15 it was Rs 1,798 crore and this year it was Rs 1,600 crore which we have exhausted. More funds will come only in January which is when the demands submitted under revised estimates are released. So the next two months will be difficult. We have asked for another Rs 450 crore for the rest of the year,” a source said. The matter was discussed at a presentation given to Health Minister J P Nadda on Tuesday, along with a host of measures to increase the beneficiary base and make transactions easier through the use of technology.
. While instructions were issued to start clearing bills at one go instead of the earlier practice of 10 per cent payment in first instalment and the rest later, the ministry realises that the Rs 80-90 crore corpus that was handed out to UTIITSL for payment purposes is hardly sufficient.
“We need at least a couple of hundred crores corpus for the payments to continue without any hitch. We are looking at how to raise that money from other sources if possible,” said an official. The fund crunch hit at a time when the ministry was in the process of clearing private hospital bills to the tune of several hundred crores, pending for years. The pendency had led to a mass exodus of hospitals a couple of years ago, drastically reducing the number of private institutions empanelled with CGHS.
However, unfazed by the fund shortage, officials said this was only a “temporary phase”.
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