The cancer patients seeking treatment under the Mukh Mantri Punjab Cancer Rahat Kosh Scheme (MMPCRKS) now will be entitled for cashless treatment in all 16 hospitals in the state empanelled under the scheme. The benefit will be extended to the cancer patients from January 1.
Vini Mahajan, principal secretary, health, said the government would sign a fresh memorandum of understanding (MoU) with all empanelled hospitals in a couple of days. "We received feedback from patients and news reports that the cancer patients seeking treatment under the MMPCRKS were being forced to pay very high amounts. As per the new MoU, they would be entitled to cashless treatment," said Mahajan.
She said though the government wouldn't pay more than Rs 1.5 lakh in any case, on the basis of all calculations the government and all the empanelled hospitals had reached the understanding that even if a cancer patient gets all three treatments, including radiotherapy, chemotherapy and surgical treatment, the cost couldn't go beyond Rs 1.5 lakh.
As per the new MoU, now the private hospitals will be paid under the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) rates. Earlier, they were being paid under the rates of Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, which were much lower.
The cancer relief scheme was started in June 2011 for patients who don't have an insurance cover or are not government employees. The government extends financial help up to a maximum of Rs 1.5 lakh each for cancer treatment at all empanelled hospitals.
In a two-part series in April, HT had highlighted that the MMPCRKS was not benefiting patients and the private hospitals were pocketing the money by using the scheme. The reports had also highlighted how the government's Rs 1.5 lakh fund was being used by private hospitals to trap patients and then forcing them to pay somewhere between Rs 5 lakh and 6 lakh.
Following the reports, several initiatives to reform the entire scheme were ordered by chief minister Parkash Singh Badal. However, some of them are still to be implemented.
The actions recommended by the chief minister
* Soon after the reports, CM announced direct cash transfer to patients
Status: The finance department objected to the move, however the cashless scheme was recommended
* CM ordered inquiry against the officials
Status: Despite principal secretary health's written order, the inquiry was never conducted by the director health services
* Order to remove defaulting hospitals from empanelment
Status: Seventeen hospitals were removed from the empanelment list
* The rate contract of medicines
Status:The rate contract (controlled rates) was done with various suppliers and it was made compulsory for hospitals to display the rate list of medicines