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Punjab pvt hospitals refusing care to poor under Ayushman scheme

Moga In a state-wide development, all 500-odd private hospitals, empanelled with the Ayushman Bharat-Sarbat Sehat Bima Yojana (AB-SSBY), have stopped attending to unprivileged and poor patients under this cashless health insurance cover, citing the state government’s failure to clear dues. Private hospitals say they have not been reimbursed for the past two months, with dues climbing up to ₹15 crore to date.

The AB-SSBY scheme was among the Congress’ poll promises before the 2017 assembly elections. Punjab has enrolled 55 lakh families in the scheme and offers an insurance cover of ₹5 lakh to beneficiaries at empanelled public and private hospitals. It has also announced the extension of the insurance cover to include 15 lakh more families.

Nirmaljeet Singh, 58, of Moga, said, “I had visited the Mittal Hospital and Heart Centre for treatment of hernia on Saturday. They told me that they are not providing treatment under health insurance under the AB-SSBY, claiming that they were protesting against the state government.”

Sources said private hospital owners had met Punjab health minister OP Soni and officials of the insurance company a week ago. Then too, hospitals had warned the state government of their decision to boycott poor beneficiaries, if their dues were not cleared, but to no avail.

Dr Kuldeep Singh Arora, state president, Indian Medical Association (IMA), said, “All empanelled private hospitals have boycotted the treatment of patients under AB-SSBY from Saturday. This is a collective decision of all private hospitals and the IMA is with them. The state government has not cleared any claim of private hospitals under this health cover, since its collaboration with SBI General Insurance Company. For two months, no claim has been passed and dues have gone up to ₹15 crore.”

“We are not willing to halt the scheme, but have been compelled to do this, as meetings with the health department yield no results. Pending payment is leading to derailment of health infrastructure and facilities at hospitals. The insurance company is also harassing us with unnecessary inspections and audits,” he added.

Dr Sanjiv Mittal, owner of Mittal Hospital And Heart Centre, in Moga, said, “We are struggling to run our hospital. We do not have money to buy medicines and to give salaries to staff with dues piling up.”

Punjab health department principal secretary Vikas Garg said, “I have spoken with the representatives of IMA on the issue. Now, we are releasing payment to private hospitals.” Hindustan Times