PUNE: Private hospitals in the city have demanded 50% rise in rates for treating ailing employees and corporators of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC).
The demand has been made in view of the rising inflation and increasing prices of medicines and other consumables. Currently, these hospitals offer medical services as per the charges laid down by Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) in 2002.
“In 2004, the civic administration had fixed the rate for hospitalisation of its beneficiaries as per the CGHS 2002 rates. It was done with a promise that the rates would be revised as and when the Union government revises the CGHS rates. However, that has not happened, despite several changes in the CGHS rates,” Bomi Bhote, president of the Associations of Hospitals in Pune, said.
Almost all the private charitable hospitals extend cashless hospitalisation to civic employees, their dependents, and elected representatives under an agreement with the civic body. These benefits are extended on the basis of an approval letter issued by the civic health department.
The hospitals charge at the agreed 2002 CGHS rates and submit claim to PMC, under which civic employees get up to 90% cashless benefit. When it comes to the corporators, they get 100% cashless benefit.
“Prices for drugs and medical equipment are increasing at an average rate of 10-15% annually. Employees’ salary and other overhead expenses of the hospital are also increasing by 10-15% annually. All these have been explained to the civic officials during our meeting. They have promised to consider a fair and justified increase in the rates,” Bhote added.
The hospitals have also raised problem with the settlement of bills. “The civic administration is supposed to settle hospital bills within 30 days from the date of submission of the claims. However, PMC takes three or four months after the claim submission to clear the bills,” he said.
The Association of Hospitals in Pune approached PMC authorities several times in the past urging them to revise the rates, but all in vain.
When contacted, Anjali Sabne, assistant medical officer of health, PMC, said, “In view of the rising inflation and increase in cost of medicines and equipment, the private hospitals have demanded 50% rise on the prevailing rates. The proposal is currently under consideration.”
Activists working in the field of public health have, however, opposed the very idea of civic employees and corporators seeking treatment at private hospitals and the attached benefits. They said the employees and the elected representatives should seek treatment at civic hospitals.
“The PMC employees and corporators should seek treatment at civic-run hospitals. It will not just help enhance the image of civic hospitals in the eyes of public, but also improve infrastructure at these hospitals since the money spent on treatment at private healthcare centres will be diverted to civic-run hospitals,” health activist Abhijit More said.