Court tells AIIMS to treat poor boy for ailment not covered under Central scheme

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Published on Jan 16, 2020 09:35 PM IST
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The Delhi High Court on Thursday directed the All India Institute of Medical Sciences to treat a poor 11-year-old boy with aplastic anaemia for free, with the central government reimbursing the cost of treatment, as the disease is not covered under the central government’s flagship Ayushman Bharat scheme.

Patients living below the poverty line have become ineligible for financial help under other central government schemes such as the Rashtriya Ayogya Nidhi that provides financial assistance up to R 15 lakh after the Ayushman Bharat scheme was rolled out. This leaves poor patients in need of expensive procedures such as bone marrow transplant needed by the boy, other organ transplants, spine and orthopaedic surgeries helpless.

“The cost of treatment for the boy was R 12 lakh. But despite being a beneficiary of the Ayushman Bharat scheme, his family was unable to get any financial aid. The court had earlier asked the health ministry, Delhi government and the AIIMS administration for a response, which none of them provided. As someone’s life depended on it, the court gave an interim order to provide treatment to the boy, the cost of which will be later reimbursed by the central government,” said Gaurav Bansal, advocate for the boy’s family.

The current guidelines of Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi states, “Families covered under the Pradhan Mantri-Jan Arogya Yojna will not be eligible for financial assistance under RAN and HMCPF (Health Minister’s Cancer Patient’s Fund, another component of the scheme).”

The central government insurance scheme provides a cover of R5 lakh to 10 crore poor and vulnerable families across the country.

This decision sets precedence for other BPL patients seeking relief under other financial assistance scheme after not getting treatment under Ayushman Bharat. “This decision will become a precedence and in future patients who are not receiving such financial assistance will be able to get relief from the court,” said Bansal.

In 2017-18, R 40 crore were used from the Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi funds at AIIMS, Delhi for providing free treatment to 926 people, approximately 4.31 lakhs per patient, according to the latest available annual report from the hospital.

These funds are available for below poverty line poor patients in 14 Central government hospitals, including Dr Ram Manohar Lohia hospital, Safdarjung hospital and Lady Hardinge Medical College and associated hospital in Delhi.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Anonna Dutt is a health reporter at Hindustan Times. She reports on Delhi government’s health policies, hospitals in Delhi, and health-related feature stories.

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