HYDERABAD: The Telangana Superspeciality Private Hospitals Association (TESHA), which has 10 top hospitals in the city under its wings, has run into trouble with the Union ministry of labour. Turns out, the ministry, which supports the Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC), has failed to clear pending dues worth over Rs 60 crore to the hospitals. The latter is now threatening to derail the health scheme.
Sore over the hassles they face in getting their dues cleared by ESIC, TESHA representatives have warned the authorities about its hospitals stalling their services from February 15 in case their concerns are not addressed.
For the record, the ESIC provides comprehensive social security and health benefits to an estimated 7.89 crore subscribers in the country under the ESI Act, which applies to establishments where 10 or more persons are employed. However, only those drawing wages up to Rs 15,000 a month are entitled to this health insurance cover.
“We hope the issue gets sorted out soon as all our existing 127 beds are occupied at present. For certain investigations and advanced treatment, we tend to refer our patients to private super-speciality hospitals in the city, with whom ESIC has tie-ups,” explained Dr Balraj Bhander, medical superintendent of the centrally-run ESIC super-speciality hospital in Sanathnagar.
He added that they have not yet faced any issues with TESHA member hospitals, except one corporate hospital that has already started turning away patients, owing to dues to the tune of Rs 2 crore.
The problem, however, isn’t new, say insiders. One major hospital, in fact, opted out of the ESIC services in 2015, after waiting for over two years to get its dues worth Rs 16 crore cleared by the central authorities.
“Out of Rs 16 crore, about Rs 8 crore dues were blocked over silly reasons like lack of signature of patient and minor deficiencies in paper work. The money has not yet come,” said an official of the hospital on condition of anonymity.
If unresolved, the crisis is likely to affect treatment needs of thousands of patients referred to private super-speciality hospitals from the five ESIC-run hospitals in the city.
When contacted, Dr B Bhaskar Rao, CEO of KIMS Hospital and president of TESHA, acknowledged the problems their members were facing due to non-payment of dues. “Initially, all our members planned to go on a strike from February 15, but then senior representatives from Delhi head-quartered ESIC sought four weeks to resolve our grievances when we spoke to them on Saturday afternoon,” he said, adding that they will wait till then before taking their next step.
ESIC provides social security and health benefits to over 7.5 crore subscribers. It has tie-ups with private hospitals, where they refer patients for advance treatment. However, the hospitals are still waiting for over Rs 60 crore dues for services rendered