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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Govt health schemes face hurdles in restive Manipur

Both the Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana (PMJAY), a central flagship scheme offering health coverage of Rs 5 lakh per family per year and the Manipur government’s Chief Minister-gi Hakshelgi Tengbang (CMHT) designed to benefit economically disadvantaged citizens in the state offering coverage of up to Rs two lakh per eligible family.

IMPHAL:

Central and state health schemes are facing severe challenges, including financial constraints and operational hurdles in Manipur affecting the possible beneficiaries, especially the ethnic violence-affected people.

Both the Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana (PMJAY), a central flagship scheme offering health coverage of Rs 5 lakh per family per year and the Manipur government’s Chief Minister-gi Hakshelgi Tengbang (CMHT) designed to benefit economically disadvantaged citizens in the state offering coverage of up to Rs two lakh per eligible family.

Under the CMHT, eligible families are identified through the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) for the treatment of seven critical ailments, including cardiovascular diseases, kidney ailments, neurological conditions, liver ailments, cancer, neonatal diseases, and burns annually.

On April 4, 2022, the state government increased the hospitalisation benefits within the scheme, launched by Chief Minister N. Biren Singh on January 21, 2018, to Rs 5 lakh per family annually.

The financial strains for both health schemes came to light when a coalition of private hospitals in the state, operating as the “Association of Healthcare Providers (India)” Manipur State Chapter, recently wrote to the Chief Minister.

They requested the settlement of outstanding bills accrued in providing benefits to CMHT beneficiary patients at their facilities.

Amid the ongoing ethnic strife plaguing Manipur, the association urged the Chief Minister for the swift settlement of long-standing bills related to both CMHT and PMJAY incurred by private hospitals in Manipur.

Hospital sources said that the outstanding bills, supposed to be paid by the government, for both CMHT and PMJAY are in the tens of crores.

“Unable to find a means to access treatment under CMHT or PMJAY, the distressed patients were compelled to resort to borrowing money or selling their assets to gain admission to hospitals,” health officials said on condition of anonymity.

The letter of the association to the Chief Minister highlighted that a significant portion of private hospitals in Manipur are enlisted for both CMHT and PMJAY, actively catering to the healthcare needs of the local population.

Due to the delayed release of funds, a substantial number of economically disadvantaged patients, who had arrived at CMHT-empanelled private hospitals with optimism for cashless treatment, found themselves being required to make upfront payments.

They were then left hoping for reimbursement once the hospital’s outstanding CMHT bills were settled.

Health officials said that the government is preparing to gradually settle the outstanding amounts, providing a glimmer of hope, but patients continue to face challenges, including extended waiting times and difficulties accessing prescribed medicines

Meanwhile, the state health directorate issued a public notice last month, indicating that the State Nodal Cell (CMHT) had observed the presence of unauthorised individuals in possession of CMHT cards.

The notice issued by the Director of Health Services and State Nodal Officer CMHT, Kh Sasheekumar Mangang, said that the individuals possessing the cards include government employees and their families, pensioners, as well as non-poor households falling under the exclusion criteria outlined by the state government for CMHT.

The announcement instructed all unauthorised holders of CMHT cards to return their cards by December 31, emphasising that failure to do so could lead to punitive measures.

Following the issuance of the notification, a significant number of individuals in possession of unauthorised CMHT cards have complied by surrendering them to the health directorate.

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