media reports of fraudulent claims by several Hyderabad
hospitals from Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) are
an example of such disgraceful plunder of public exchequer
for private gain. According to government audit reports,
private hospitals showed fictitious patients whose names
were drawn from CGHS rolls; expensive investigations like
MRI were claimed to have been done several times a day on
the same patient (4 times in one case); abnormally large
doses of costly drugs (sometimes fatal doses) were 'administered',
and all these patently false claims were billed to CGHS.
The cases of overbilling are legion. The CGHS authorities
failed to make even the most minimal verification, and without
a demur promptly settled the claim! Obviously the defrauding
hospitals and the officials were in collusion to defraud
a change, the Union government machinery moved, and internal
audit and enquiries were conducted after the events. The
reports conclusively established that large scale fraud
has taken place. A few hospitals were blacklisted for the
time being. But apparently, even such a tepid response is
resisted by influential politicians and wheeler dealers.
In a sane society, all officials whose connivance, corruption
or rank incompetence facilitated such loot should be dismissed.
The properties of the hospitals and their promoters should
be confiscated. Corrupt officials and the defrauding businessmen
must be prosecuted and jailed. Colluding doctors must be
delicensed. But our sense of justice and public good is
so blunted, that such actions are not even contemplated.
damage done to public interest in such cases is horrendous.
As it is, the governments in India spend only 0.9% of GDP
on public health. 83% of all health expenditure is by people
themselves, and 90% of it is paid out-of-pocket. The poor
are suffering grievously for want of access to effective
health care services. And yet the meager public funds are
robbed by unscrupulous rouges! As a result, not only the
poor are hurt, but honest professionals and entrepreneurs
are demoralized. The city, which aspires to be the health
capital of India and a destination for 'health tourism',
gets a bad name. No wonder, hardly any investment comes
to the state despite the tall claims of our politicians
all have stakes in what is happening in these hospitals
and many enterprises. And business class must be forced
to realize that honesty is not merely a moral necessity;
but it is an economic imperative. We citizens must boycott
institutions resorting to such fraud. That is the only effective
way of punishing crooks in the garb of businessmen. Such
people give bad name to free enterprise and market economy.
Freedom cannot be a license to loot. The honest entrepreneurs
must shed their inhibitions and speak out. Or else all genuine
wealth creation will be suspect. People already tend to
believe that all business is crooked. We need to do the
right thing and erase such an impression.