Agartala, September 10 (PTI): Opposition parties in Tripura on Tuesday called for an immediate rollback in the state government's decision to hike tariffs for healthcare services and threatened to launch a statewide stir if their demand is not met.
The BJP-IPFT government, in a notification on Friday, set the daily charge for ICU beds at Rs 300 for Antodaya Annapurna Yojana (AAY) beneficiaries and Rs 600 for people above the poverty line (APL). It was free earlier.
AC cabins in state-run hospitals will cost Rs 700 per day whereas APL patients will have to pay Rs 50 per day for food in the hospitals. Earlier, free food was served to them.
The AC cabins used to cost Rs 400 earlier, as per Healthcare Department director P K Majumdar.
Similarly, different diagnostic tests would be charged at par with Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) rates for APL patients and 50 per cent of the CGHS rates for those under the Priority Group.
Protesting the move, Tapas Dey, vice-president of the Tripura Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC), said, "The decision is a direct attack on the people's basic requirement. We have decided to organise protests in all the eight districts till the government rolls back its decision," he said.
CPI(M), too, vowed to launch a stir over the issue. "This government is trying to charge more for the facilities in government hospitals. This is not acceptable. We will launch a statewide movement," CPI(M) state committee member Pabitra Kar said.
Noting the revised rates will make it difficult for the masses to get proper healthcare in government hospitals, former health minister and BJP MLA, Sudip Roy Burman said he would urge the state government to review its decision.
TPCC president Pradyot Kishore Debbarman, in a Facebook post on Monday night said, "Instead of providing quality health care, we are denying it to the people. As Opposition, we must demand an all-party discussion on how to ensure that there is a rethink by the state govt.
"The healthcare in the previous govt was in shambles we should be upgrading the system... I appeal to the govt to listen to the voices of opposition," Debbarman wrote.
Former chief minister Manik Sarkar, in a letter to Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, who also holds the health portfolio, on Sunday had termed the move as "inhuman and injudicious".
"Public healthcare in Tripura was nearly free since majority of people were from low income groups... Your government's decision to roll back free services in public healthcare is injudicious and inhuman," he had written.
Reacting to the issue, BJP spokesperson Dr Ashok Sinha said, "This decision will not affect the poor as there are several benefits for them such as Ayushman Bharat scheme. The mentality of people that things are available for free in hospitals has to be abolished."
Asserting that the state government would never remain unresponsive to genuine cases of poor patients, he added that there have been noticeable examples of misuse of hospital facilities, because they were free.