New Delhi: After a strongly worded letter questioning the lack of finances and the involvement of private insurance companies in Ayushman Bharat, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) seems to have backtracked on its opposition.
The doctors’ body has now extended its support to the Centre's ambitious National Health Protection Mission (NHPR) scheme, a week after it sought a review of the programme saying it had "conceptual deficits and operational flaws".
IMA representatives met Ayushman Bharat CEO Indu Bhushan, deputy CEO Dinesh Arora and other officials on Friday and pledged cooperation in its better implementation, especially in empanelment of hospitals, spreading awareness and beneficiary identification processes.
IMA secretary general Dr RN Tandon said, "The IMA is proud to be associated with Ayushman Bharat (NHPR) and would be keen to provide help in spreading awareness and developing a larger network of quality service providers especially in tier-2 and tier-3 cities.”
Speaking to News18, Dinesh Arora said the IMA asked to be part of the grievance redressed mechanism since they have chapters and branches in most places. He added that the government was happy to partner with the IMA.
Indu Bhushan, meanwhile, said the IMA is a critical stakeholder in the scheme as the role of private sector is key to its success by enhancing the accessibility to quality and patient centric care.
Key issues like timely payments to hospitals, feedback and grievance redressal mechanism, ease of setting up of IT infrastructure at hospitals for paperless transactions etc were deliberated on during the meeting and constructive suggestions were made, a press release said.
"We need to ensure that the targeted beneficiaries under AB-NHPM get maximum benefits and can expand access to quality health services in both rural and urban areas including Tier-2 and 3 cities. This can be done only when government, private healthcare providers and associations like the IMA and other industry bodies work together as partners for betterment of health status of the society," Bhushan said.
Sources privy to the meeting said the IMA wanted to drop the issue of finances entirely.
The IMA had last week demanded a review of the scheme, saying it has "conceptual deficits and operational flaws". The doctors' body had said the rates quoted by the government for various procedures were abysmally low and impractical to implement. Most of them do not cover even 30 percent of the cost of the procedure, it had said.
"No hospital can work on these rates without seriously compromising patient safety. In the garb of cost cutting, the government is exposing the people to danger in the hospitals. Caesarean sections underwritten for Rs 9,000 cannot ensure safety of the mother and the child," IMA national president Dr Ravi Wankhedkar had said.
The IMA had demanded that the costing undertaken be transparent and be in public domain. The doctors' body had said the money allotted for the AB-NHPS would have better served the country if every district hospital was strengthened with an infrastructure of Rs 2 crore each.
(With PTI inputs)