Hospital costs to go up, Opposition cries foul

Hospital costs to go up, Opposition cries foul

BMC plans to increase rates charged at civic hospitals by 20-25 per cent, 35 per cent for outsiders

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is trying to clear a proposal to hike treatment cost for patients in civic-run hospitals by 35 per cent for those from outside Mumbai and by 20 per cent for Mumbai residents. Opposition leaders, however, are all set to attack the BMC over the proposal slated to be tabled at the BMC standing committee this week. The civic body proposes to increase overall cost for patients in its hospitals by 20-25 per cent (especially cost of tests like MRI and CT scan), citing a huge difference between expenditure and revenue earned. The proposal, if approved, will hit patients coming from outside Mumbai the most, as their medical bills may shoot up by 35 per cent.

As per the proposal, rates will be hiked in all 16 BMC-run main and peripheral hospitals across the city. Opposition leaders in the civic body stated that it is unfair and they will not let it be passed by the standing committee. “It is a known fact that those coming to civic hospitals come from economically backward class or are poor. Increasing rates by 35 per cent for those coming from outside Mumbai will make medical treatment unaffordable for them. We opposed it when it was first put forth at the BMC party group leaders meeting and we will oppose it when it is tabled at the standing committee,” said leader of opposition in the BMC and Congress corporator Ravi Raja.

Rais Shaikh, corporator and group leader of Samajwadi Party in the BMC said: “It seems like a political move, and it is not acceptable to us. We are just waiting for it to be tabled at the standing committee, where we will oppose it.” Meanwhile Shiv Sena is confident of getting the proposal approved by the standing committee. Leader of the house in the BMC and Shiv Sena corporator Yashwant Jadhav said the proposal has already been partly approved, and a few aspects of it are to be discussed at the standing committee meeting, following which it will be passed.

According to the civic health department, in 2016-17, the BMC observed in its budget that nearly 45 per cent of the patients treated in the civic run hospitals come from outside Mumbai. However, the civic body receives hardly 6-7 per cent of the total spending on healthcare facilities. The last hike in hospital rates was in 2000, following which the rates have remained stagnant even though cost of healthcare has increased, civic officials said. According to civic officials, in 2014-15, the civic health department generated a revenue of Rs 63.39 crore against the expenditure of 749.67 crore.

Justifying the hike, a senior official from the civic health department said, “The proposal to hike rates has come up after 17 years. There is an urgent need for the administration to do so as there has been a huge difference between expenditure and revenue generated. The move will help us in generating revenue enough for us to upgrade facilities at civic run hospitals.”