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Cancer patient struggles for medicines under Ayushman

June 16, 2019 05:25 AM


Cancer patient struggles for medicines under Ayushman


Rama Devi, 60, from Maloya thought herself to be one of the fortunate people to be enrolled under the Ayushman Bharat — the universal health coverage (UHC) scheme — for cancer treatment. The medical coverage is touted as the world’s largest government-funded healthcare programme. She was least aware of the fact that despite the Ayushman card, she had to be at the mercy of doctors for her chemotherapy medicines. In fact, the cancer patient had to be without her dosage for two weeks, as PGI, where she is getting her treatment, could not get the refund from the National Health Authority (NHA).

“I had been suffering with thyroid cancer. The gland was removed, and I was fine, but the cancer spread to my lungs and bones. Getting medicines under this scheme is very tough from the PGI as it takes more than two days to get medicines. I am made to shuttle from one pharmacy to the other,” said Rama. The patient is a widow. She is helped by her neighbour at times. “The poor woman reported in the PGI on June 3 when her medicines were over. When she went to the Ayushman Bharat counter there along with me, she was told due to her pending amount not being refunded from the centre, she cannot be supplied any medicine. She was without medicines from June 1 till 14,” said Amarjeet, her neighbour.

Rama Devi had to go without her dosage despite having Ayushman card

PGI says supplied meds on own

The PGI authorities also felt helpless and informed that they had been suppling the medicines on their own since the last five months despite no refund from the NHA. “She had reported to us under the UHC since the end of December. Her package is Rs 2,750 per day. But she was getting this amount for a month. We had been still issuing her the medicines and simultaneously took up with the NHA. We cannot treat without reimbursement and asked the patient recently to approach the UT authorities,” said Dr Navneet Dhaliwal, department of hospital administration, PGI. She said, “The NHA replied to us on June 14 and agreed to supply a month’s medicine for the time being.”

BJP’s medical cell convener Prince, who wrote to the NHA and had been pursuing the case with the PGI, said, “Why was PGI waiting for five months without reimbursement? In fact, when I called up Dr Dhaliwal, she rudely told me to stay away from their matter.”

Saroj, the health authority in-charge for Ayushmaan Bharat, UT, said, “The amount had to be entered every time and every day for the patient. When the PGI made a claim, it was not considered as the entry was not made on day to day basis. We had taken this up with the government which will take this up during policy review.” Till date only 8000 families from Chandigarh have been the beneficiary of the UHC

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