After slashing the prices of angioplasty — the procedure of implanting stents — from Rs. 85,000 to Rs. 55,000, a latest notification from the health ministry says that CGHS beneficiaries will be compensated only Rs. 25,000 for drug eluting stents.
This is about 60% less than the existing rate. Rs. 12,000 will be granted for bare metal coronary stents.
The move hasn’t gone down well with the patients or the medical industry.
Earlier, the rates were R65,000 for all drug-controller general of India (DCGI) and FDA-approved drug-eluting stents, R50,000 for the CE (Europe)-approved stents and R40,000 for those manufactured indigenously.
“This move will now bring down the pricing of heart procedures in the country. At the existing prices, the masses cannot afford cardiac treatment,” said Dr Jagdish Prasad, director general of health services. Prasad said the decision will be effective from Friday.
Forty private hospitals on the CGHS panel have now written to the health ministry, threatening to withdraw from the panel. Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, which does the highest number angioplasties in the country, opted out of the panel last October when the government had announced a minor revision.
“It is impossible for any heart hospital to sustain at such low reimbursement rates,” said Dr Purushottam Lal, chief, Metro Heart Institute. “Ultimately, quality of treatment will suffer. This decision will see most private hospitals leaving the CGHS panel. While the industry may suffer, the CGHS patients will bear the maximum damage,” he added.
“While it is not financially viable to perform procedures at this cost, this will also lead to rampant reuse of many surgical instruments like wires, balloons, catheters, etc. Most big hospitals don’t cater to CGHS beneficiaries as the payments are poor and delayed. With this price cut, patients will probably have to pay from their pocket,” said Dr Anil Dhall, senior cardiologist, Delhi Heart and Lung Institute.