Updated: April 23, 2021 3:07:16 pm
THE NUMBER of people who received free Covid-19 treatment at private hospitals in Andhra Pradesh under Aarogyasri – the state’s flagship healthcare scheme for economically and socially backward families – crossed one lakh on Thursday.
“These people were able to receive the best Covid-19 treatment for free at private hospitals under Aarogyasri. In most cases, the hospital bill paid by the government was more than the annual income of the affected person and his or her family,’’ said state Health Minister A K Krishna Srinivas.
Andhra Pradesh was the first to include Covid-19 treatment in the list of illnesses covered under the health scheme just as the pandemic started last year. Under Aarogyasri, the eligible families – with less than Rs 5 lakh annual income – receive free healthcare at listed hospitals if the medical expense exceeds Rs 1,000.
So far, the state government has spent over Rs 309 crore on Covid treatment bills under the scheme. Till Thursday, 1,00,033 Covid-19 patients received free treatment in various private hospitals across the state under this scheme, officials said.
Apart from this, the state government is providing free treatment at all government hospitals, and those private hospitals which have been taken over by it due to the pandemic, irrespective of whether or not the patient is eligible under Aarogyasri.
The Aarogyasri scheme allowed several critically ill patients to take treatment at expensive hospitals in the state. In Nellore district, Manda Ramaiah, 49, got admitted to Apollo Speciality Hospital and his medical expense of Rs 5,87,534 was paid by the state government. Similarly, Sheik Nazeer’s bills of Rs 4,68,312 were also approved under the scheme.
Like several other states, Andhra Pradesh, where less than 50 Covid cases were recorded in the second week of February, is currently witnessing a steep rise in cases. On Thursday, the state reported 10,759 cases and 29 deaths. The total number of cases in the state so far is 9,97,462.
Alarmed at the sharp increase, a Group of Ministers headed by Health Minister Srinivas discussed key issues in containing the virus, apart from oxygen supply, testing and vaccination progress. They will present the recommendations to Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy.
Srinivas said certain measures were taken to ensure that there is no shortage of oxygen or medicines in hospitals across the state. Currently, the state needs 360 metric tons of oxygen and there is no problem for government hospitals, he said. The Centre also will provide assistance to set up a new oxygen plant in the state, he added.
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