Doctors and hospitals in Uttarakhand are using innovative ways to siphon off funds earmarked under the Ayushman Bharat scheme by the Union government. The programme aims at providing health coverage to around 10 crore vulnerable families.
Private hospitals in the Himalayan state have been charged with allegations of siphoning public funds valued at around Rs 1.20 crore in a few months of the scheme being launched, a Times of India report said. The string of frauds has put state officials on a constant alert.
The bizarre ways being undertaken by them to divert funds vary from showing surgeries being conducted on patients who are already discharged from the hospitals to showing dialysis being performed in a facility without any kidney specialist, the report said.
Furthermore, some hospitals have even shown patients to be diagnosed with deadly diseases when they were later found to be suffering from common cold only. A few other hospitals have shown operations being conducted on patients who have already been operated upon somewhere else. While others have submitted records of surgeries being conducted on perfectly healthy patients to claim the money.
According to the report, a National Health Authority (NHA) team was in for a surprise when it visited Uttarakhand in May for physical verification of beneficiaries. The team met a patient who was listed as someone who needed emergency hip replacement surgery but was happily driving around on a scooty.
"How can a person who needs an emergency hip replacement drive a two-wheeler? The hospital had claimed Rs 90,000 for the surgery which was declined by us," Abhishek Tripathi, director, Atal Ayushman Yojana (Uttarakhand) told the news daily.
The medical facility by the name of Vinod Ortho Clinic in Dehradun which had recommended this surgery was allegedly also involved in another suspicious case.
"I'm planning to move court to challenge the action taken by Atal Ayushman authorities," Dr Prasoon Maheshwari who owns the clinic told the news daily adding that he hadn't done anything wrong. He also said that he was being targeted as "many renowned doctors were having a problem with the fact that patients had started coming to me instead of them".
Uttarakhand has around 150 hospitals which are empanelled under the Ayushman Bharat scheme. Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat announced in December 2018 to name the scheme as Atal Ayushman Yojana in the state and also declared that it will cover around 18 lakh more beneficiaries apart from the ones identified earlier under the programme.