PESHAWAR: Waiting periods of heart patients on Sehat Card Plus (SCP) have increased due to non-revision of the charges for heart surgeries, investigations and procedures at empanelled hospitals, according to sources.

The government is releasing outstanding amount of Rs10 billion to State Life Insurance Corporation, which has been implementing SCP for the last six years. The corporation facilitates patients at public and private hospitals under the cashless treatment initiative and gets paid by the government in four equal installments.

According to the sources, the government has not released any amount to the corporation for the past six months, making it difficult for it to continue payments to the hospitals. They said that per month cost of SCP was Rs2.5 billion.

They said that SLIC would revise the package when it got money from government to ensure that patients did not face delays in treatment. They said the corporation linked upward revision of rates for seven hospitals doing heart surgeries to release of its unpaid amount by the government.

Officials say govt working to increase hospital charges by 10pc

More than 10.3 million families having identity cards of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are entitled to seek free health services in 1,100 hospitals empanelled by SLIC. The provincial government is required to release the budgetary allocation on quarterly basis to the corporation in advance.

Sources in cardiac wards of the designated hospitals said that government was applying delaying tactics to revise the rate. They added that government had been promising revision of rates for more than six months but there was little hope.

“We have provided enough justifications for increased overheads of all kinds. Premium of SLIC has been increased substantially over the years, however the, hospital rates even for the best category ones have not been rationalised. This is why most good surgeons are reluctant to take patients on SCP,” they said.

They said that hospitals were unable to meet expenses with the rates being provided by government, many of which were even below the cost.

SLIC, which has been working with provincial government since 2015, is paying the amount to the empanelled hospitals and patients continue availing free treatment. “If the government does not provide the dues to the corporation, it can withdraw services,” they said.

Sources said that hospitals had conveyed to department that cost of implants used in surgeries had gone up in international market due to falling value of rupee against dollar.

“We are conducting surgeries, though some surgeons are refusing to do so due to very poor rates by the government. It is impacting patients requiring treatment. Waiting times may be a bit longer,” they said. They added that most of the heart ailments needed urgent treatment but all items used in heart cases were imported in dollars.

“We do eight to nine bypass surgeries everyday beside 60 to 70 angiographic procedures,” Prof Shahkar Ahmad Shah, medical director of Peshawar Institute of Cardiology, told this scribe. He added that patients were getting health services on SCP and there were no delays and no waiting lists.

In June, the health department on directives of Chief Minister Mahmood Khan terminated agreement with a Peshawar-based private hospital for refusing treatment to heart patients.

The chief minister ordered the officials to suspend agreement with the hospital for all diseases on SCP. The reaming six hospitals continued to offer services on SCP to patients but at snail’s pace.

Health officials said they were about to ink an agreement with SLIC and services would not be disrupted. “The government is working hard to increase package. The hospitals would get a 10 per cent increase,” they said.

They said that government had so far spent Rs33 billion on the free treatment of 1.3 million patients, including 30 per cent on heart patients. “Agreement has been reached with corporation to facilitate revision of rates for hospitals,” they added.

Published in Dawn, October 5th, 2022

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