The Narendra Modi-led NDA government, which is facing an uphill task in almost every sector of the economy, has now a new headache. Top private hospitals in the country are on the verge of collapse due to non-payment of thousands of crores by the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) and Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS).
Moreover, as reported by The Hindu, the Indian Medical Association and the Association of Healthcare Providers (India) has warned against the suspension of cashless treatment of the patients who are seeking treatment under these two schemes.
Major cash-crunch at private hospitals
As per a report published in the Print, the outstanding payment which is yet to be cleared by the central government is around Rs 1,700 crores. Now the hospitals are complaining that their day to day function is getting hampered due to the non-payment by the government. Presently, over 37 lakh people are entitled to receive the cashless treatment under the two schemes. The schemes are meant to increase the quality of health care.
Generally, through these schemes the patients are provided treatment at private hospitals and the bill is then reimbursed by the central government. But if the private hospitals' deicide to withdraw the cashless treatment, the patients will have to pay at the hospitals and then get it reimbursed from the central government.
Job cuts could be the next step
With the hospitals not receiving due from the government the IMA has argued that if the situation prolongs, they will have to fire employees. Lakhs of employees working in the health sector may lose their jobs. In a statement, the association said, "No interest is paid on such outstanding [sums]. Non-payment of legitimate dues by the government is taking a toll on the day-to-day functioning of the hospitals. Hospitals are unable to pay salaries to employees. Many hospitals have begun to cut down on operations by the closing of certain wards/beds."
India is one of the worst-performing nations when it comes to providing healthcare access to its population. In the period between 1990 and 2016, the country has just improved 8 ranks from 153 to 145 which shows the sorry state of its healthcare. Moreover, as per the minimum requirement norms are given by the World Health Organisation, India currently has less than half the number of hospital beds than needed.