KAKINADA: In aftermath of an Aarogyasri patient receiving refund of the excess amount collected by a private hospital in Kakinada from a Coronavirus patient, there is growing demand from patients and family members that extra amounts collected from them too be returned by private and corporate hospitals in East Godavari district.
In this regard, the role of nodal officers and Arogyamitras appointed by the government to oversee treatment of Covid-19 patients in these hospitals has come under question. These government-appointed persons have the responsibility of checking the quality of treatment being given at the hospital of which they have been made in charge, apart from ensuring that they are not charging amounts in excess of those stipulated for treatment.
However, there have been reports of many hospitals collecting enormous fee, mostly in cash, from persons they are treating. When officials started checking on this aspect after numerous complaints, a private hospital in Kakinada was found to have collected excessive treatment charges from a patient admitted to the hospital under Aarogyasri. Officials found that the hospital had indeed collected excessive fee. They fined the hospital Rs 22.5 lakh and de-notified it from Covid-19 treatment. They also made the hospital repay the excess amount collected from the patient.
Further, officials terminated the Arogyamitra appointed for this hospital on grounds that he did not inform higher officials about the hospital collecting excess fee. Arogyamitra employees condemned the dismissal and sought his reinstatement. They pointed out that the Arogyamitra had asked the son of Coronavirus patient whether he paid any excess amount to the hospital for treatment. The son said he had paid Rs 2 lakh. The Arogyamitra asked the person to give a written complaint and also took up the issue with the hospital management.
Meanwhile, relatives of the patient took up the matter with officials which led to Arogyamitra’s dismissal. AP Arogyamitra Employees Union chief adviser B. Roy pointed out that according to guidelines, unless there is a written complaint, Arogyamitras cannot take any action. Roy said dismissal of Arogyamitra will demoralise rest of the Arogyamitras who have been tirelessly working for doing justice to Aarogyasri patients, despite being paid meagre salaries. He demanded that the government reinstate the dismissed Arogyamitra immediately.
CITU leader P. Veerababu said in fact action should have been taken against the nodal officer concerned, who is expected to visit patients of the hospital two to three times a day and enquire about their health and whether they are being forced to pay in excess of government-fixed rates. Veerababu demanded that action be taken against the nodal officer of the hospital for failing miserably.
Social activist and Poura Samkshema Sangham president Dusarlapudi Ramana Raju said that an inquiry commission should be instituted with regard to all private hospitals that have collected excess fees from patients. Steps should be taken to ensure that such excess payments collected are returned to patients.
Ramana Raju charged that politicians are also involved in private hospitals collecting excessive fees. He said the inquiry commission should announce probe into excess fees collected by private hospitals, so that people could approach it and filed their complaints....