HYDERABAD: The slugfest between the Telangana Aarogyasri Network of Hospitals Association (TANHA) and the Aarogyasri Health Care Trust (AHCT) over payment of arrears took a serious turn on Friday, with thousands of patients being sent away by the private hospitals empanelled with the scheme.
After talks with representatives of hospitals, Medical and Health Minister Eatala Rajender said the government owed only Rs 600 crore after it had released Rs 200 crore, which the private hospitals dispute. He appealed to the hospital staff to continue to treat patients, saying the medical profession was not mere business.
“I want them to consider the patients on humanitarian grounds,” he said.The hospitals’ associations, however, said the government owed them Rs 1,500 crore. A representative of the network of hospitals said: “The government has released Rs 200 crore, but it is not much because the total arrears were Rs 1,500 crore. The government insists that it owes only Rs 600 crore now.
‘Even if govt releases Rs 200 cr, it would cover only 20% Aarogyasri dues’
The representative pointed out that the minister had promised to take steps to release Rs 200 crore more in September, and added that even this would not be much. According to a rough estimate, the Rs 200 crore that was released would cover only about 20 per cent of arrears. Even if the government releases Rs 200 crore more, the end result would be just 20 per cent of dues getting covered, since arrears would have piled up again by then. The trouble has been brewing for over a week, with the government not responding to the hospitals’ demand to clear the dues.
With the TANHA hospitals refusing to admit new patients, many were left high and dry and had to return home. The situation had come to such a pass on Thursday, when Director of Medical Education (DME) Dr K Ramesh issued a circular to all government medical colleges in the State and to all superintendents of teaching and specialty hospitals, saying they should be prepared for the extra inflow of patients.
In the letter, the DME noted that no emergency or elective cases from Aarogyasri card holders must be denied admission. In the letter, the DME further noted that the information must be disseminated and no patient be denied basic healthcare.
“We are expecting a higher inflow of patients from tomorrow. We always face an overflow of patients, more than the number of beds, so we are equipped to handle such a situation. No one will be denied admission for want an Aarogyasri card or number. We usually see about 1500-1700 patients in the outpatient department (OPD) and can hold up to 2,000 patients,” a doctor at Osmania General Hospital said.