Ahmedabad: The government is probing fraudulent practises at hospitals empanelled for treatment of ex-servicemen, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said here on Saturday.
She said there were several issues with the scheme, and some of these hospitals inflate the bills.
"I say this openly, there are a lot of issues with ECHS (Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme). Both you (ex-servicemen) and the government are facing problems. Random checks have revealed that complaints are coming from many of these (empanelled) hospitals," Sitharaman said.
The defence minister was speaking an interactive function attended by ex-servicemen.
She said audits of these hospitals revealed that many of them charged huge fees by showing ordinary cases as emergencies and apparently conducted unnecessary tests and treatment to inflate bills.
"From among these 1,446 civil hospitals, payments of many have been stopped for now and they are being investigated whether the bills are genuine," Sitharaman said.
Because of the ongoing investigation, many of the hospitals are not offering treatment at present, causing inconvenience to the ex-servicemen, she conceded.
"We are issuing them notices and even removing them from the list. We are...trying to reform the system so you do not face any trouble," the minister said.
ECHS is a health scheme for armed forces veterans managed by the Department of Ex-servicemen Welfare under the Ministry of Defence. It covers around 50 lakh beneficiaries, both ex-servicemen and their family members.
As many as 426 polyclinics and 1,446 civil hospitals are empanelled under the scheme, Sitharaman said.
The defence minister also announced that the government will not file appeal in the cases related to ex-servicemen if the verdict by the Armed Forces Tribunal goes in their favour and against the government.
The government has also decided to transfer pensions of ex-servicemen under the Pension Payment Order directly into their accounts to avoid delays and a toll-free number will be set up to resolve their complaints, she said.
The NDA government has released Rs 35,000 crore for One Rank One Pension since November 2017, Sitharaman said.
A newly-built war memorial will soon be inaugurated, she said.
"There was not a single war memorial despite four wars (after Independence). Even in our manifesto we had said we will build a war memorial. It is near completion in Delhi and will be dedicated soon....We are fulfilling what is pending since the last 70 years," Sitharaman said.