Delhi govt opposes L-G Baijal’s rider of free diagnostic tests and surgeries
Anil Baijal, on the other hand, maintained that he put the condition based on the recommendations of the finance and planning departments, which come under the Delhi government.delhi Updated: Jan 03, 2018 16:58 IST
The Delhi government’s scheme to pay for providing free diagnostic tests and surgeries at private centres continued has become the latest issue to add to the list of controversies around the relations between the AAP dispensation and the Lieutenant Governor’s office.
The Delhi government has opposed L-G Anil Baijal’s rider of introducing an income criterion for availing free diagnostic tests and surgeries. Baijal, on the other hand, maintained that he put the condition based on the recommendations of the finance and planning departments, which come under the Delhi government.
Around 11,000 people have benefitted from the schemes in nine months – March to November 2017 – Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain said. “The objections will render the whole scheme unworkable,” he said.
Currently, anyone who needs a diagnostic test prescribed by doctors in Delhi government hospitals that cannot be done in the hospital or has a long waiting period, can avail it from 67 empanelled private labs and hospitals. For a surgery, if the waiting period is more than a month, the patient can get it done in one of the 48 empanelled hospitals.
The only criterion was that they have to be citizens of Delhi.
The government had been paying private centres either at CGHS rates, which are usually half of the market rates, or a fraction of it. “We are not introducing any tax for it or even asking the centre for money. We are making the schemes work within the existing health budget, then what is the problem,” Jain said.
To this, the L-G said that no government can have unlimited resources and that the affluent sections of the society should not crowd out the deserving poor. “It is really strange to note that the elected government is of the view that the resources of the state should be used to provide financial assistance to the rich people staying in posh colonies,” a statement from the L-G’s office read.
The government has also objected to L-G’s advice that an income criterion be introduced for the tests being provided at mohalla clinics and polyclinics.
“Till now, all treatment including all medicines, tests and consultation was free for all patients, irrespective of income limit, in all mohalla clinics and polyclinics. Now, according to the L-G, all consultations and medicines would continue to be free for all patients but patients above a particular income limit would be charged for diagnostic tests. Additional staff would also need to be deployed to receive payments from “rich” patients for diagnostics tests,” a government press release read.
The government has said that the income criteria is not required as only the poor visit the government hospitals and introducing it will make the whole process cumbersome and require additional staff to identify eligible people.
“A patient, who has been prescribed a diagnostic test, will first (have to) go to an SDM office to procure an income certificate... If you need any certificate on an emergency basis from SDM office, one knows that you would end up paying huge bribes. Secondly, false income certificates are available at a “cost”,” read a government release.
However, the L-G stated that the easiest way to do this was to introduce self certification instead of asking for income certificate.
The minister questioned as to why the middle class cannot be allowed to avail the facility. The L-G’s office reverted that he never advised to exclude the middle class from the scheme. “The government is free to choose an appropriate income level that does not exclude the middle classes and the poor from the scheme.”
The government has also been asked to come up with a system to monitor that unnecessary tests are not ordered in collusion with private centres. The L-G also asked that a mechanism be developed for taking action against private centres if their quality was found to be poor, or if they indulged in any malpractices.