New Delhi: An ambitious health welfare measure of the Aam Aadmi Party led Delhi Government has run into a roadblock after the Lieutenant Governor raised objections over it. The government and LG clashed, yet again, after the latter called for an income criteria in the AAP’s ‘Quality Health for all’ scheme.
Speaking to the press on Tuesday, Delhi's Health Minister Satyender Jain said that such criteria, brought-up without discussing with the Delhi Chief Minister, will render the whole scheme “unworkable”.
The government’s scheme would introduce a “seamless” arrangement between the Delhi government and the private hospitals in the city. Any patient of any one of the latter hospitals can go to one of 67 private empanelled labs and hospitals for tests that cannot be performed in the government hospitals. If a government hospital, often burdened by a large footfall, cannot give a surgery date to a patient within a month, the patient can go to any of the 44 private hospitals empanelled for this purpose. In both cases, the government will bear the cost.
Delhi's government hospitals, of both the state government and the central government, are often burdened with a massive rush from within and outside the city and a large segment of the population has to go to expensive private establishments.
Under this scheme, passed by the Delhi Cabinet on December 12, empanelled establishments have agreed to charge either at Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) rates or at a fraction of CGHS rate, said the government.
However, the LG has asked that people avail this scheme according to their income. This, said the minister, would only increase bureaucracy, paperwork, and waste the patients’ time. “Many people don't have income certificates, and to obtain them, they’d first have to go to a sub-divisional Magistrate (SDM), where they could face harassment and have to pay bribes,” said Jain.
Such a process will be hugely detrimental in the cases of serious of fatal illnesses. It could also lead to an industry of middle-men and touts, he added, to make these certificates.
The government added that access to quality healthcare should be irrespective of income. The poor go to government hospitals, which are in poor conditions, out of necessity. Jain said they’re working to improve the infrastructure in all their hospitals, including super speciality ones, so that the middle-class starts using them too as it has started using the Mohalla Clinics and the Polyclinics.
He called out the LG for interfering in the functioning of the Delhi government.
“If income criteria were introduced as desired by the LG, it will not only kill quality health for all scheme, it will also kill already successfully running Mohalla Clinics and polyclinics,” said the government.
This is the second time in the recent past the two parties have clashed over a government measure, as the LG has raised objections to the Doorstep Delivery of Services scheme, too.