No free coronavirus treatment at private hospitals in Mumbai from todayUpdated: Mar 31, 2020 22:22 IST
Despite state health minister Rajesh Tope’s assurance that Covid-19 patients in Maharashtra would receive free treatment under the Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Jan Arogya Yojana (MJPJAY), the private hospitals in the city that are equipped to treat the disease are not part of the scheme.
On March 26, Tope had announced free medical treatment for Covid-19 patients under MJPJAY from April 1. Under the scheme, patients from financially-disadvantaged background get medical insurance of Rs 1,50,000 at empanelled hospitals.
Of the 1,000 hospitals empanelled across the state, 42 are in the city. This includes 27 private hospitals, including a few dialysis centres. HT has a list of the empanelled health centres. However, none of the private hospitals in Mumbai listed under the scheme have isolation wards for Covid-19. Among the hospitals empanelled under MJPJAY are HCG Cancer Centre, Apex Hospital as well as Sushrut, KJ Somaiya, HJ Doshi Ghatkopar Hindu Sabha and Life Line Hospitals. None of these have the isolation wards that are compulsory for the treatment of Covid-19, as per the Union health ministry’s rules.
“Under the scheme, we have 1,000 hospitals, so we need to make a policy decision if we should treat coronavirus patients in all hospitals or at limited hospitals for the safety of other patients,” said Sudhakar Shinde, chief executive officer of the health insurance scheme. “But this benefit [free treatment] will be given only to those who receiving treatment at our empanelled hospitals. If anyone wants to get treatment at Lilavati or Breach Candy Hospital, we can’t cover them,” he said.
Currently, the state government has approved of approximately 100 isolation beds in 15 private hospitals, including Jaslok, HN Reliance Foundation, PD Hinduja National, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani, SL Raheja, Lilavati and Bombay Hospitals among others. None of these hospitals are empanelled under MJPJAY. Patients at independent private hospitals that are not listed under MJPJAY can avail a 50% concession on bills upto Rs 4,000.
“If they don’t have the isolation wards then why did the government declare to provide free treatment from April 1?. The state health government should have thought about the emergency situation beforehand,” said health activist Dr Ravikant Singh.
The state health department is yet to formulate a policy that may bring all private hospitals in the city with Covid-19 facilities under its umbrella and is already grappling with a shortage of the personal protective equipment (PPE) that is necessary for medical staff treating Covid-19 patients. “Not all hospitals have the required infrastructure to treat patients, which can put lives of other uninflected patients at risk. Also, we don’t have enough materials to supply PPE, sanitizers or masks to so many hospitals. Thus, we need time to inspect and make a list of the hospitals,” said a senior health officer seeking anonymity.