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AAP govt, L-G’s office lock horns over healthcare scheme

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that if the income criteria was introduced, it would practically “kill” the scheme.

New Delhi: The AAP governmentand the Lieutenant Governor’s office on Tuesday engaged in heated arguments over a scheme proposing free medical surgeriesand tests at private hospitals in case of delay in government facilities, setting the stage for another round of confrontation between the two sides.

Health Minister Satyendar Jain said that Lt. Governor (L-G) Anil Baijal has objected to the scheme without discussing either with the chief minister or the minister concerned, and has asked the department to include income criteria for people to avail benefits under the ‘quality health for all’ scheme.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that if the income criteria was introduced, it would practically “kill” the scheme.

Refuting the government’s charges, the L-G’s office said that he had not asked it to seek income certificates from those availing benefits under the scheme, and noted that the AAP dispensation was free to choose an appropriate income level that does not exclude the middle class and the poor from the scheme.

Addressing a press conference here, Jain said the introduction of an income criteria will make implementation of this scheme “extremely cumbersome” as verification of patients’ incomes would increase paper work.

“The L-G raised objections without discussing either with the CM or the minister concerned, and has asked the department to include income criteria for people to avail benefits under the quality health for all scheme,” Jain said.

Responding to Jain’s allegations, the L-G’s office said that Baijal had not imposed any condition of requirement of income certificate for availing the scheme, adding that he always supported positive initiatives.

“Incorporation of a suitable income criteria was suggested by the L-G on the basis of recommendation of the planning and finance departments.

“No government can have unlimited resources. Therefore, it is important that the resources of the government are used first to help the poor and the needy. The affluent sections of the society should not crowd out the deserving poor,” the L- G’s office said in a statement.

It also stated that it was really strange to note that the elected government is of the view that the resources of the state should be used to provide financial assistance to the rich people staying in posh colonies.

The scheme was passed by the Cabinet on December 12 and was subsequently sent to Baijal for approval.

It has been proposed that if the date for a surgery is not given by a government hospital to a patient within a month, then he can get it done from any of the private hospitals empanelled for this purpose.

Under the scheme, a patient can be referred to a private lab to undergo tests free of cost if there is no such facility at mohalla and poly clinics.

“If income criteria is introduced, it wud practically kill this scheme. It will also kill mohalla clinics and polyclinics. That wud be v sad(sic),” Kejriwal tweeted.

Meanwhile, a government official said that till November last year, more than 11,000 residents availed the benefit of getting their high-end diagnostic radiological tests done in empanelled private labs on being referred by Delhi government health facilities.

According to the L-G’s office, an easier way out for the government was to allow residents to avail the benefits of the scheme on the basis of self certification.

“The government should trust the people and there should not be any need of income certificate,” the L-G’s office added.

Late last month, the Lt. Governor sent back to the Delhi government a proposal for doorstep delivery of public services for reconsideration, with Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia terming it a “huge setback” to the AAP dispensation’s efforts to providing graft-free governance. PLB/BUN SMN

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