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Telangana’s 240 Pvt Hospitals Threaten to Stop State’s Free Healthcare Scheme Over Non-payment of Dues

According to the state's hospital association , an amount of Rs 1,500 crore is yet to be cleared and these dues have accumulated over years.

Rishika Sadam | CNN-News18

Updated:August 14, 2019, 11:29 PM IST
Telangana’s 240 Pvt Hospitals Threaten to Stop State’s Free Healthcare Scheme Over Non-payment of Dues
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Hyderabad: It has been the same story over the past two years, at least. About 240 private hospitals in Telangana have decided to withhold their services under the state’s free health benefit scheme, Aarogyasri, over pending dues.

According to the Telangana Network Hopsitals Association (TANHA), an amount of about Rs 1,500 crore is yet to be cleared and these dues have accumulated over years. The association has set a deadline of August 15, failing which the hospitals would boycott services from August 16.

Aarogyasri, a flagship health scheme, was launched in 2007 in erstwhile Andhra Pradesh by the YS Rajasekhar Reddy-led government with the aim of providing free healthcare to families Below Poverty Line (BPL). The scheme provides aid of up to Rs 2 lakh a year per family. It also provides services for EHS (Employee Health Scheme) and JHS (Journalist Health Scheme) cardholders.

Hospitals withholding this scheme would mean that lakhs of BPL families across the state could be affected. More than 940 types of treatment are covered under this scheme -- from cardiology to pulmonology-related treatments, general medicine, orthopaedic, all major surgeries, and chronic illnesses.

There are about 240 private and 96 public network hospitals in the state providing the Aarogyasri medical services. On an average, 10,000 out-patients and 3,000 in-patients visit the hospitals. The private hospitals operate a thousand patients each day under the scheme.

“We have made repeated requests to the state government - nothing has been done yet. We cannot function like this, by not being reimbursed for our free treatments - it’s become a financial burden to hospitals,” TANHA state secretary T Hariprakash told News18.

The hospitals have also been demanding that the package rates for the services be revised, saying that operational costs have increased but the rates at which the state government pays the hospitals has remained the same.

“Our chief minister has Rs 500 crore to spend on a new Assembly and Secretariat and does not have the money to clear our dues. We are asking for money for free healthcare provided to BPL families - it is a state government scheme,” a member from the association told News18 on condition of anonymity.

This is not the first time that the hospitals have threatened to withhold services, after going on a strike in November last year. Banners were put up outside private hospitals then, saying that Aarogyasri services would be stopped.

The state government at the time had assured the hospitals that the pending dues would be cleared. However, the association says their promises were not kept.

“When we protested in November, we had pending dues of Rs 1,000 crore. The government said they will release the amount, but they released only Rs 132 crore. After a few months, they release another Rs 100 crore - that’s it. Nothing after that. Now the dues have skyrocketed to Rs 1,500 crore rupees,” said Hariprakash.

Every time the hospitals went on strike over the past few years, the state government made partial payments and the protests were called off.

But this time, the hospitals’ association says they need more than 70% of their dues cleared for the strike to be called off.

Meanwhile, the Aarogyasri Health Care Trust had earlier said that Rs 688 crore was paid to the hospitals last year and about Rs 344 crore paid in 2017.

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