The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has demanded a review of the center’s ambitious National Health Protection Scheme, saying it has conceptual deficits and operational flaws. The doctors’ body said the rates quoted by the government for various procedures are abysmal and impractical and most of them do not cover even 30 percent of the cost of the procedure. “No hospital can work on these rates without seriously compromising patient safety. In the garb of cost cutting the government is exposing the people to danger in the hospitals. “Caesarean sections underwritten for ₹9,000 cannot ensure safety of the mother and the child,” IMA national president Dr Ravi Wankhedkar said. The IMA demanded that the costing undertaken be transparent and be in public domain. The doctors body said the money allotted for the Ayushman Bharat — National Health Protection Scheme (AB-NHPS) would have better served the country if every district hospital is strengthened with an infrastructure of ₹2 crores each.
“The highly optic NHPS fails to create any new national asset. The same money invested in our public hospitals would have brought secondary and tertiary care closer to poor in our government hospitals. “In addition to non-creation of new public sector hospitals, the government will lose around ₹400 crore to private health insurance companies which will manage the scheme. The insurance driven healthcare is a failed experiment,” Dr Wankhedkar said. IMA members said apart from such conceptual deficits the operational flaws of the scheme will ensure it as a non-starter. While lauding that the scheme has brought health as an important issue in an election year, the doctors body expressed concern that only a fraction of ₹1.5 lakh crore required has been allotted. The IMA said the way forward for the country is to invest in our government hospitals for better health infrastructure and manpower. The current policy change in India will only end up strengthening the insurance business. “IMA has suggested to the Union government that NHPS should be modelled as healthcare purchase directly from the provider hospitals removing the insurance companies and third party administrators.
“These intermediaries siphon off 40 percent of the budgeted money and are breeders of corruption and unethical practices,” IMA Secretary General Dr R.N. Tandon said. Twenty States, so far, have signed MoUs with the Union Health Ministry to implement the government’s ambitious national health protection mission, aiming to provide a cover of ₹5 lakh per family annually to ten crore vulnerable families. – The Hindu