NEW DELHI: Ministry of Defence has cleared almost the entire pending hospital bills estimated at Rs 2,100 crore and replenished medicine stock in Army hospitals across the country. It has also issued a Standard Operating Procedure to keep an eye on expenditure by empanelled hospitals.
MoD sources said, “Of the almost Rs 2,100 crore fund allocated under the Medical Treatment head from which hospital bills are paid, over Rs 2,050 crore has already been allocated to clear pending medical bills of the empanelled hospitals.”
In July, the Government had acknowledged an acute shortage of medicines at ECHS polyclinics, in remote areas.
“Availability of medicines is also likely to ease further as funds have been released by Directorate General of Armed Forces Medical Services to local authorities for procurement,” an official said.
He said, continuous efforts are being made to get additional funds and it is hoped that during revised estimate stage 2019-20, additional funds would be provided by the Ministry of Finance, to ease the situation.
There is a projected requirement of Rs 6,000 crore for the Army’s medical expenditure annually of which Rs 3,200cr was released initially.
The fund is meant to look after former soldiers, sailors and airmen through the Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS).
However, the scheme was beset with a major crisis. Also, the Government had allowed ECHS members in January to buy medicines not available with hospitals from the local market on a reimbursement basis.
The ECHS was created in 2004 to look after the treatment of 52 lakh individuals, including ex-servicemen and widows and their dependents, besides active soldiers and their dependents.