The deadlock between the Telangana government and private hospitals in the state over the non-payment of dues continued on Saturday, leaving in the lurch several patients who depended on the Aarogyasri scheme.
Over 200 private hospitals in Telangana stopped taking cases of patients on the Aarogyasri and Employee Health Scheme (EHS) scheme, citing non-payment of dues to the tune of Rs 1,500 crore by the state government.
In a bid to pacify the hospitals, the state government has offered to release Rs 300 crore for now, but hospital associations have refused to admit new patients until the entire amount is released.
"The government has to release the complete money. The health minister stated that Rs 300 crore was released now and the remaining will be done in September. But that is not possible. Hospitals are bleeding and they cannot take this burden anymore. We need all the pending dues to be cleared,” a senior member of Telangana Superspeciality Hospitals Association was quoted as saying.
Several patients dependant on the scheme were turned away on Saturday by private hospitals when they went to avail treatment. While some were told to come next week, others were told to pay the normal rates of the hospital.
As a result, several patients made a beeline to state-run hospitals in Hyderabad like the Gandhi Hospital and Osmania General Hospital (OGH), which saw long queues as people lined up for treatment.
Hyderabad-based activist Lubna Sarwath also wrote to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) pointing out that the basic right to life of the patients was being denied.
"On one hand, government of Telangana is not paying dues to basic health services of Arogyasri nor does it strengthen government hospitals. On the other hand, it announces construction of a new Secretariat and Assembly costing Rs.500 crore," Lubna stated.
"We are appalled that poor patients' fundamental right to life with right to be treated for good health is being denied due to criminal negligence of the government of Telangana," she added.