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Karnataka pvt hospitals say won’t be able to pay staff if govt doesn’t clear Rs 35-cr dues

Karnataka govt owes 100 hospitals dues that are reimbursement towards Covid patients’ bills. But trust responsible for clearing the bills alleges ‘agenda’ on part of hospitals.

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Bengaluru: The Karnataka Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes’ Association (PHANA) has claimed that 100 hospitals across the state will not be able to pay salaries to their staff from next month onward as the state health department owes them close to Rs 35 crore.

These dues, the association said, are reimbursement towards bills of Covid-19 patients, who were referred to those hospitals under the government quota.

“Approximately, Rs 35 crore worth of reimbursements of Covid-19 patients are yet to be refunded to us. How do you expect us to pay the salaries of doctors, nurses and health workers if we are not given our dues?” R. Ravindra, president of PHANA, told ThePrint, adding that his hospital received a token amount out of the dues Thursday evening.

According to Ravindra, there are 384 hospitals under PHANA, of which the government owes money to 100 hospitals. Of these, 60-70 will be on the verge of closure if the dues are not paid, he said.

In July, the Karnataka government made it mandatory for private hospitals to reserve 50 per cent of their beds to treat Covid patients referred by the state health department.

“The beds that have been allocated under the government quota cannot be used to admit another private patient. Many beds are lying vacant under this quota and we are facing heavy losses,” the official said.

PHANA has also urged the government to pay the hospitals at least 25 per cent of the cost of the vacant beds.

“We are also requesting the government to at least allow the hospitals to use the vacant beds for private patients,” he added.

Also read: Non-payment of salary to healthcare workers will now be an offence, Centre tells SC

‘Private hospitals using media to further their agenda’

The PHANA president also claimed that medical suppliers would earlier give hospitals 45-60 days to make payment. But now they ask hospitals to either pay cash or make an advance payment, said Ravindra.

“To purchase medicines like Remdesivir, we need to either pay upfront or in advance,” the doctor explained. 

“We are already facing huge losses due to the pandemic and this has added to our difficulties. We are unable to pay the medical suppliers as our overhead costs have hit the roof,” Ravindra added. 

The Suvarna Arogya Suraksha Trust (SAST), which is responsible for clearing these bills on behalf of the government, has also received a memorandum from PHANA, explaining their financial position.

But when ThePrint contacted N.T. Abroo, the executive director of SAST, she hit out at the media. 

“Why is the media turning anti-people? The private hospitals are using the media to further their agenda. When the government has been trying its utmost to provide free and good medical care to Covid patients, why should there be a problem?” Abroo asked.

A senior Karnataka health department official, who did not wish to be named, said the payments are being made but the process has been slowed down due to extensive verification of the bills. 

Also read: No salary for 3 months, doctors at Delhi’s Kasturba Hospital threaten to resign en masse


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