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PMJAY arrears reach ₹800 crore; Gujarat private hospitals threaten to stop service

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious healthcare scheme, Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY), has hit a rough patch in Gujarat. Non-payment of bills to private hospitals, amounting to a staggering Rs. 800 crore, has pushed these facilities to the brink, threatening the scheme’s viability in the state.

For the past two years, over 300 private hospitals empaneled under PMJAY haven’t received payments for claims filed under policies 5, 6, 7 (July 2021 – July 2023) and policy 8. This translates to outstanding dues of Rs. 300 crore for the former and Rs. 500 crore for the latter. This financial strain is impacting their ability to function effectively, jeopardizing essential medical services for thousands of beneficiaries.

Mass walkout warning
“The government hasn’t disbursed Rs. 300 crore for policies 5, 6, 7 and Rs. 500 crore for policy 8 for the past two years,” said Dr. Ramesh Chaudhary, spokesperson for the PMJAY Empaneled Private Hospital Association of Gujarat. “Due to these outstanding payments, services in some hospitals have been stopped. Many hospitals in Vadodara have already ceased PMJAY treatment.”

The association has warned the government of a potential mass walkout if urgent action isn’t taken to clear the dues. This would leave PMJAY beneficiaries dependent solely on government hospitals, creating a severe shortage of beds and specialized care.

Crucial role private hospitals
The situation highlights the crucial role private hospitals play in PMJAY’s success. With over 65% of empanelled hospitals in Gujarat being private, they cater to a significant portion of the beneficiary population. Their withdrawal would severely limit the scheme’s reach and impact, especially in rural areas where government infrastructure is often lacking.

Beyond the immediate financial crisis, the situation raises concerns about the long-term sustainability of PMJAY. Timely payments are essential for maintaining trust and cooperation between hospitals and the government. Delays create financial instability for hospitals, impacting their ability to invest in infrastructure, attract qualified staff, and provide quality care.

Experts point to a potential domino effect if the issue isn’t addressed promptly. Unpaid bills could deter other hospitals from joining PMJAY, further limiting beneficiary options. Additionally, the financial burden on government hospitals could increase, impacting their own efficiency and quality of care. Free Press Journal

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