Hyderabad: Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao is encouraging state health department officials to understand the central government health scheme, Ayushman Bharat. This is being seen as a tactical move to do away with the state scheme, Aarogyasri.
According to private hospital administrators Aarogyasri bills are on the rise and paying them on time is proving to be quite a task for the government. A senior doctor on condition of anonymity explained, “The bills from August 2019 onwards are again more than `500 crore. The government will be looking at the central scheme as one way to get rid of the state scheme. The central scheme is for those below the poverty line. Aarogyasri was to be on the same lines but it has been misused with a large number of people possessing the health cards.”
There are 98 private hospitals in Telangana which are empanelled in the Aarogyasri scheme. The Aaroygasri scheme is based on the rates charged by the Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences. It covers a wide range of diseases and ailments such as fractures, heart diseases, lung problems and many other critical problems. The scheme is very popular. But the misuse is also high as those who are affluent also possess Aarogyasri cards. A senior doctor on condition of anonymity explained the state of the scheme: “The scheme was started by former chief minister the late Y.S. Rajashekar Reddy and at that time there was never any delay in payment. After that, successive governments have delayed payments. It has now reached a point where there are large numbers of beneficiaries but payments are not in sight for months. Hospitals have to time and again agitate to get their due payments. These are signs that the government would like to mull options. Ayushman Bharat will come as a new scheme for those below poverty line and also do away with those who are misusing it.”
State officials have been directed to hold discussions with officials of the central government to understand the additional benefits. The Ayushmaan Bharat scheme covers only 400 diseases while Aarogyasri covers 946 diseases. According to the state estimates Ayushman will benefit only 26.11 lakh families but the state scheme covers 77.19 lakh families. Aarogyasri spending is `782 crore annually. The state government is looking at getting 60 per cent share from the central scheme, amounting to `250 crore. A senior official said that for the present both schemes will operate. “The money from the centre will help the state scheme too,” he said. But the question at the hospital level is that if the centre and state both are covering the same disease, under which scheme must it be billed? Also, the state and centre rates are different. Who will pay the hospital? Why will a hospital charge a lower rate for the same disease when under the state scheme the rate is higher?