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Swasthya Sathi: Private hospitals urge Bengal govt to review health scheme rates

With the government starting to enrol names for the scheme, private hospitals are worried that it might increase their financial burden and lead to large-scale patient refusal.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata |
Updated: December 29, 2020 9:59:56 am
Ayushman Bharat, Ayushman Bharat west bengal, Ayushman Bharat mamata banerjee, Ayushman Bharat centre, Ayushman Bharat bengal vs centreThe Chief Minister directed the district administration to ensure that people from the Lodha and Santhal Adivasi communities are included in the “Swasthya Sathi” programme.

The state health department on Monday met representatives of private hospitals to assuage their fears about the price structure of the government’s Swasthya Sathi universal healthcare scheme. The private health providers sought a review of the rates mentioned in the scheme.

With the government starting to enrol names for the scheme, private hospitals are worried that it might increase their financial burden and lead to large-scale patient refusal.

“It was a fruitful and positive meeting, with both the government and the private healthcare service providers agreeing that the scheme is important and should receive unanimous success since this will help provide quality healthcare to all. We also shared some of our concerns with the government, the first of which is that the rates under Swasthya Sathi are somewhat unrealistic vis-a-vis private healthcare providers and even smaller nursing homes will not be able to sustain, and provide services at those rates. We have to constantly upgrade our infrastructure and we have high overhead expenses in terms of equipment and manpower,” said Association of Hospitals of Eastern India and AMRI Hospitals Group CEO Rupak Barua.

According to sources, the current rates in the scheme are about one-third of private hospitals’ normal charges or lower. The sources said the health department was likely to appoint a third party to review the rates following a suggestion from the private facilities. The third party will hold discussions with private hospitals before submitting a final report to the health department.

“It was a cordial meeting, they have asked us to send our views in writing by 12 pm tomorrow. Our only concern is the rate. If we work on the same rate then private hospitals will close down in seven days as we are focussed towards overall quality. They welcomed our views and will appoint a third party to review the rates. The health officials said that they will look into our viability and work on the rates,” said Belle Vue Clinic CEO Pradip Tandon.

Barua said, “Since all private healthcare service providers are all super speciality facilities, with high-end equipment, these facilities should be used for advanced, tertiary care treatments and not just for primary and secondary care treatments since this will only lead to unnecessary occupancy of beds. Only patients needing high-end therapies and procedures should be referred to private hospitals. We also requested them that payments should not remain outstanding for months since too much delay in payments will make it difficult for us to run our hospitals. We are expecting a positive response from the government and we have pledged our commitment to provide the best of our services to patients coming to us for treatment under Swasthya Sathi.”

The health department is likely to hold internal discussions on Tuesday after receiving the hospitals’ views.

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