Opposition protests revised healthcare tariffs in Tripura

AGARTALA:

The opposition parties in Tripura have launched agitations from Monday against the government's decision to raise the tariffs of services in government hospitals and demanded withdrawal of the increased charges. The Tripura government on Friday had increased the tariffs of medical services "to improve the quality of health services".

Tripura Health and Family Welfare Department Secretary Debasish Basu said that the state government on Friday announced revised tariffs of 14 hospital services and 337 bio-chemistry, pathological, radiological, digital and clinical tests.

"The tariffs of hospital services and variety of medical tests were revised to improve the quality of services in the government hospitals and medical colleges and to motivate people to enroll in the PMJAY (Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan ArogyaYojana)," Basu told IANS in an interview.

Strongly criticising the government's move, Congress, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and other opposition parties launched agitations on Monday to withdraw the new tariffs.

Tripura Pradesh Congress Vice-President and senior lawyer Pijush Biswas told the media that as the first step they have organised agitations in all the district headquarters on Monday to withdraw the new tariffs.

Former Chief Minister and opposition leader Manik Sarkar and former health minister and deputy opposition leader Badal Choudhury in a letter to the Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb urged the BJP-led government to withdraw the increased charges.

"It was most inhumane that the state government has increased the tariff of services in government hospitals by 100 to 200 per cent. The new tariffs are higher than the provate hospitals and nursing homes," Choudhury said in his two-page strongly worded statement.

Demanding withdrawal of the new health services tariffs, various frontal organisations of CPI-M and other parties have also launched agitations across Tripura.

Detailing the basis behind the revising of the hospital tariffs, the Health and Family Welfare Department Secretary said that the department and various hospitals have debts around Rs 60 crore for purchasing medicines and other medical treatment related items.

"The revised tariffs would be applicable only in three state hospitals, six district hospitals and 22 sub-divisional hospitals. The new tariff would not be enforced on the poor people categorised under the Antyodaya Yojana and in hundreds of Primary Health Centres, Community Health Centres and sub-centres," Basu stated.

"Various dialysis, treatment of cancer and some critical, communicable and non- communicable diseases would remain free even after the revision of hospital tariffs," he added.