Saturday, December 3, 2016

Does PM Modi have a plan to stop black business in private hospitals?

JAIPUR: Eighty-one-year-old Beant Audichya fell sick with a high fever last week. Her daughter, a former journalist, rushed her to Soni Hospital on Jawaharlal Nehru Marg, less than half a km from her home near the Ganesh Temple at Moti Doongri. At the hospital, a senior doctor said she needed the services of a neurologist – since there was no doctor with that specialization at Soni Hospital, the patient was referred elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the family was charged for the ambulance – a whopping Rs 580! The government provides free ambulance services in case of emergency but these vehicles only take patients to government hospitals. In case of the government’s paid ambulance service that can be availed when it is not an emergency case, the charge is Rs 20 per km. At Soni, the woman at the reception said an additional Rs 400 would be charged for consultation! That, however, was not charged as the patient’s kin just refused to part with the additional amount.

Economist Prabhat Patnaik, in his writings on demonetisation, has emphasized that the government must target activities that generate black money – not stashes of cash. Does the government have a plan to clamp down on exploitative business? It might be pertinent to mention here that estimates put the Modi government spend on advertising over its two-year term at over Rs1,000 crore. The entire health budget of Rajasthan is about Rs1,100 crore.

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