Source: From Internet
New Delhi: The government’s failure to sanction payments of ₹1,400 crore to private hospitals for providing free treatment under central health schemes, has prompted the enterprises to write to finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, seeking her help to get the pending dues cleared.
The hospitals had made several attempts to recover their dues from the ministry of health and family welfare—the nodal ministry for implementing schemes such as the central government health scheme (CGHS) and ex-servicemen contributory health scheme (ECHS)—but to no avail.
The Association of Healthcare Providers of India (AHPI), which represents corporate healthcare providers, has now written to Sitharaman for a resolution so that the dues worth ₹1,400 crore are paid to the hospitals at the earliest.
CGHS facilities are extended to central government employees and pensioners, sitting and former members of Parliament, former governors and lieutenant governors, freedom fighters, sitting and former judges of the Supreme Court and high courts, and certain public sector units, among others. Beneficiaries receive cashless healthcare from empanelled private hospitals, who are later reimbursed by the government.
According to the list submitted to Sitharaman, Max Healthcare has an outstanding dues of ₹147.77 crore under CGHS and ₹75 crore under ECHS.
Max alleged that the CGHS has never been able to meet its commitment on timely payments to the hospital chain and has outstanding dues of more than ₹150 crore as on 31 July 2019.
“Due to such huge delays and outstanding payments, private hospitals, like us, face financial difficulties in meeting their obligations to suppliers and third-party (vendors)," said a Max spokesperson. “The hospital’s cash-flow is seriously impacted because of the continuous and perennial delay in CGHS payments. Nevertheless, the hospitals continue to treat CGHS patients and take care to minimize any inconvenience to them."
Fortis Healthcare has outstanding dues of ₹59.74 crore under CGHS and ₹150.5 crore under ECHS. “A large outstanding has piled up, which has affected the business performance and financial health of the company. In turn, it also affects third-party vendors who have to face financial duress due to delay in payments. It would be helpful if this process is simplified with timely clearance of the dues by the government," said a Fortis spokesperson.
Likewise, Apollo Hospitals has an outstanding of ₹69 crore under CGHS and ₹71 crore under ECHS, and Medanta Medicity, Delhi-NCR, has an outstanding ₹57 crore under CGHS and ₹38 crore under ECHS. In fact, Apollo officials alleged that the dues are pending with the government for a long time, considering that the hospital is no more empanelled with CGHS for the last five years.
Most private hospitals also claimed that they have been serving patients under CGHS at heavily discounted prices, which have not been revised since 2014.
“Reimbursement is a major concern. Hospitals signed agreements based on the terms defined by the CGHS, effective 1 October 2014, which has provision to make 70% payment within five working days of submission of bills by hospitals," said an AHPI official.
The health ministry said the dues will be cleared soon. “As our department had a budget crunch, the payments of private hospitals under CGHS are pending. As per the vote of account, we can only use one-third of the budget before July. Soon, we will start clearing the bills," said Atul Prakash, director, CGHS.
“In none of the cases, payments have been made within such a stipulated time. Hospitals have to wait for months and years to get the dues. This result in pushing hospitals to state of un-sustainability and hospitals are forced to avoid/refuse beneficiaries for treatment. Over the past few years, there are close to ₹4000-6000 million ₹400-600 crore outstanding all the time. We are told that unless the finance ministry releases bulk of the amount, the outstanding will continue to remain in the same bracket," he said