Five days after the state Health and Family Welfare Department issued a notification revising public healthcare tariff rates, Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb Wednesday clarified that his government is yet to finally implement revised rates and said the previous notification was only an ‘in-principle notification’, which had some errors. The CM is in charge of the health portfolio since former Health Minister Sudip Roy Barman was abruptly sacked from the Cabinet in May.
In his address at a press conference at state secretariat this evening, CM Biplab Kumar Deb said, “Several developments keep happening in the government departments. One should not comment without learning the full facts. It is not healthy for a democracy”.
The Chief Minister also pointed out several errors in the notification issued by Health Department on September 6 and said 51 items like Thyroid Stimulating Hormones (TSH), thyroid hormones like free triiodothyronine (FT3), FT4 etc. were repeated in it. Apart from these, piped oxygen which was listed undercharged services in the Health Department notification, is also a free service since all amenities provided in Operation Theatres (OT) and surgical wards are free as per government policy in Tripura, Biplab Deb clarified.
Principal Secretary Kumar Alok, who joined the media briefing with CM today, clarified that the previous list had ‘certain errors’ in it. As per that list, 337 clinical tests including radiological and pathological diagnostic tests would be provided under public healthcare services in Tripura, whereas the actual figure is only 286.
The government’s clarification has come two days after opposition CPI (M) and Congress parties took to the streets with severe criticism of the decision, alleging it would essentially render all major public hospital services out of reach of common people.
The CM today reasoned that his new public healthcare policy has classified people into three sections – Antodaya Annapurna Yojana (AAY) beneficiaries, which are the poorest section of state’s demography, families from Priority Group who live below the poverty level and those who are Above Poverty Level (APL). The healthcare services will be cheaper for the poor, he said.
“We have kept all services completely free for AAY beneficiaries. Priority Group families will henceforth enjoy 35 per cent reduced tariffs across different segments. We have increased healthcare tariffs from APL beneficiaries. Why should APL people not pay? They can afford to pay. Our government will work for the poor only”, Deb said.
As per records of state government, Tripura has got 1.08 lakh families from AAY category, 4.70 lakh families from Priority Groups and 12 lakh people from APL categories.
While defending his government’s act, Deb also trained guns at erstwhile Left Front government and said massive corruptions were held during their regime. “We shall publish a White Paper on health department activities soon and all corruptions will be exposed”, he said.
Asked if the controversial notification was in fact ‘issued’ by the government, the CM confirmed it but said none of the revised norms were actually implemented since no such order can be followed sans an ‘operational notification’.
According to Notification No. F.1 (28)-DHS/GS/18 issued by Department of Health and Family Welfare on September 06, revised tariff rates would need APL and Priority Group consumers to pay Rs 20 and Rs 10 for registration in Out Patient Department (OPD) and Rs 30 and Rs 20 for admission in hospital beds respectively. The notification also prices ICU beds at Rs 300 for Antodaya Annapurna Yojana (AAY) beneficiaries, Rs 300 for Priority Group consumers and at Rs 600 for people above the poverty level per day. Also, the hospital diet, which was provided free to all patients and relatives till now, would be charged at Rs 50 per day for APL consumers.
Similarly, different diagnostic tests, biochemistry, pathology, micro-pathology, radio-diagnosis and other medical investigations would be charged at par with Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) rates for APL consumers and 50 per cent of CGHS rates for those under Priority Group.