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OPINION

Loot in the name of Medical Reimbursement

Amend Legislators Medical Attendance Rules
Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat
Srinagar | Posted : Jan 14 2018 1:21AM | Updated: Jan 13 2018 11:28PM
Loot in the name of Medical Reimbursement

Recently some vital information about misuse of medical reimbursement scheme by state legislators came into public domain. The information provided under Right to Information Act (RTI) made it clear that our MLAs, MLCs who in-spite of getting very fat salaries continue to rob our state exchequer in the name of medical reimbursement. Irony is that instead of getting treated in Srinagar or Jammu, the MLAs and MLCs prefer to visit New Delhi for specialized treatment while as poor and deserving patients who actually need specialized treatment outside state are left at God’s mercy. Highly qualified people are made to work like bonded labourers (contractual lecturers in school and higher education departments, NHM doctors and paramedics) and on the other hand tax payers' money is looted  by our lawmakers to get their wives and close relatives treated outside state. Even money from state exchequer has been used by some MLAs for getting dental treatments and implants and I have all these documents with me. 

 

Rx of Fatty Liver: 

Fatty liver is a common disease in J&K and elsewhere. Due to high intake of high protein and fatty food almost 20 to 30 % of population in J&K suffer from this disease. Its treatment does not need highly specialized doctors but can be managed even in our Government  District hospitals. From last several years MLAs and their close relatives in J&K state have been recommended by Health Department officials to get this disease treated outside J&K. This has caused huge loss to state exchequer. On the other hand many patients who suffer from renal failures, various types of CAs, brain tumors, chronic liver ailments are not even recommended for the specialized treatments outside state. On 21st August 2013 Directorate of Health Kashmir issued a letter which reads as : 

“This is to certify that Mrs ………  W/O Mr…….. Hon’ble MLA is a known case of Grade 1 Fatty Liver, LK Calculus with complaint of chest pain and chronic abdominal back pain. She is referred to AIIMS, Ganga Ram , Batra hospital New Delhi and is advised to have regular checkups at AIIMS , Ganga Ram / Batra hospital New Delhi and is advised to travel by Air” 

People have no problem if MLA's wife is referred to US for treatment of ailment, but why shall a poor taxpayer pay for the medical treatment of MLAs family? MLA or MLC gets a salary of Rs 1.60 lakhs/ month along with  other perks and benefits, why can’t they spend from their own pocket for the medical treatment of family relatives?

 

Amount spent on treatment:

Legislative Council Secretariat vide Letter No: 75 LC of 2015 Dated : 5.2.2015 issued an order wherein an amount of Three Lakh Sixty Eight Thousand Six Hundred and Nine Rupees (Rs 3,68,609) were sanctioned in favour of an MLC from Jammu for treatment of his wife under Medical Attendance Rules . For treatment of this disease hardly Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh could have been spent in any Government hospital of J&K (SKIMS , SHMS, SMGS). In the year 2015 an MLA from South Kashmir was referred outside the state for treatment of  'fatty liver'  and 'acute cervical spondylosis' , even as both these conditions were very common and could easily be treated even in district or  sub district hospital of the state. The letter from Directorate of Health reads 

“ Mr ……. Hon’ble MLA is being referred to outside the state for evaluation, treatment and management in any hospital recognized for the treatment”. 

I know a 25 year old female patient who is suffering from kidney ailment. The girl is an orphan and needs immediate treatment outside state, but Government is not coming to her rescue. 

Few years back another MLC from Jammu was reimbursed an amount of Rs 4.71 lakhs for treatment of his mother at Ganga Ram hospital  New Delhi. Among the list of almost two dozen MLAs and MLCs available with me only one legislator namely, an Ex MLC, has got the medical treatment from GMC Jammu. For this treatment he was reimbursed with Rs 1.11 lakhs (One Lakh Eleven Thousand Rupees). 

 

Conclusion: 

Our MLAs and MLCs are very much entitled for medical claims for themselves and their close relatives but why shall they be referred to New Delhi if the treatment can be done within the state itself ? Why are Legislators and Ministers putting a pressure on Directorate of Health for issuance of official letters enabling them to go outside state for medical treatments? In a cash starved state of J&K where Govt employees are made to work on Rs 7000 a month for 5 years, where PROs of Ministers  get mere monthly salary of Rs 12000 and NREGA and NHM employees are on protest for better salaries and job security , there is an urgent need to make changes in the Medical Attendance Rules of Members of J&K State Legislature 1986 so that legislators do not take undue benefit of these rules……