Monday saw the beginning of the end of Aarogyasri scheme when the state government started diverting patients from plush private hospitals to government facilities, implementing its decision of making the treatment of 133 procedures exclusive to state-run hospitals in 10 districts across the state. The districts are Adilabad, Hyderabad, Kurnool, Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam, Nizamabad, Khammam, Warangal, Guntur and Krishna.
Confusion prevailed at almost all the Aarogyasri-empanelled private hospitals with the scheme’s beneficiaries and their attendants arguing with the managements seeking explanations as to why they were being sent to government hospitals. Quite a few decided to foot the bills rather than get themselves treated at the government hospitals.
Sources say that on an average, a significant 60 per cent of the patients at these 50-100 bed Aarogyasri network hospitals come for the 133 procedures, which they are no longer supposed to offer.
So on Monday, over 200 patients who would otherwise have got admitted for these routine procedures in private hospitals and nursing homes in the 10 districts were shunted out. Hospital managements said they were taken aback by the government’s sudden move. “We never thought things would change so soon,” said a doctor who owns a 50-bed hospital.
“Last night, at 11 pm we got four patients but had no choice but to deny them admission. We will lose out on 60 per cent of our Aarogyasri patients,” said a doctor of Sigma Hospitals. He added that through this move the government has done a cost-cutting of 17 per cent of the total expenditure on this scheme.
The Aarogyasri Trust authorities sent out a circular stating that the beneficiaries of the scheme in the 10 districts shall be referred to the nearest government hospital capable of performing the notified procedures. The patient facilitation services such as call centre and field operations team are also sensitized in this matter to guide the patients accordingly.
“We have informed all the district collectors and the superintendents of government network hospitals to ensure that the hospitals are geared up to perform these identified 133 procedures at their hospitals from August 1, and accept the increase in load of these patients if any,” said N Srikanth, CEO of the Trust.
However, senior doctors at private and government hospitals are of the view that a chunk of these patients will spend money and get themselves treated at private hospitals and nursing homes what with an estimated 70 per cent of the card holders being bogus.
A surgeon at the state-run Gandhi Hospital said that the problem with the existing government hospitals is the lack of hygiene, procedural hassles and improper attitude of the staffers.
“I don’t think there will be any major impact of the change in policy immediately. It will take time. On average, 700 Aarogyasri cases are admitted at Gandhi Hospital. By next month, we will have a clearer idea about the increase in patient load,” he said and added that all this has happened because of the misdoings of nursing homes and private hospitals who exploited the scheme for commercial gains.
As far as the remaining 13 districts are concerned, the Trust said that these procedures can be performed in private network hospitals across the state till the MoUs with them expire. In 8 districts, the MoUs will expire in November this year, and in the rest they will expire in March 2012. TOI