Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Recommendations of 7th CPC compel to die without treatment

Bruhaspati Samal
Secretary, AIPEU, Group-C

I was too tired on the day since returned home at about 10 PM after addressing the Biennial Conference of AIPEU, Group-C, Cuttack North Division at Kendrapada, nearly 100 KMs away from Bhubaneswar.

 Reaching home, I found Mr. Patra, a Postman and my colleague waiting for me.

When asked for the reasons, he told hurriedly, “ Sir, my father has been admitted to Kalinga Institute of Medical Science, Bhubaneswar due to awful chest pain. As per preliminary diagnosis he is suffering from Rheumatic Heart Disease, severe Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms, Artial Fibrillation with Fast Ventricular Response and Pulmonary  edema  The doctor has advised for open heart surgery and now he is in ICU. As per initial demand of the hospital, I have deposited Rs.50000/- for undertaking next course of action.”

Then he remained silent for a moment.

"How can I help you, pease tell me" – I asked.

“The Hospital has handed over me an estimate of Rs.286000/- The operation will be held day after tomorrow. You know better my financial condition, Sir. I’m not at all prepared for such an unforeseen situation”. – Mr. Patra told at a stretch and asked me for immediate help and suggestion.

“Don’t worry and give me the estimate” – I told Mr. Patra. We are after all Central Govt. employees and there is provision for interest free Medical Advance. We can avail it within a day.

 I collected the Medical Advance Application Form from Mr. Patra along with the estimate, completed all official formalities taking the help of my colleagues and with the kind cooperation of my SSPOs and AD(Accounts) could be able to arrange sanction of Rs.165000/- as per CGHS rates by evening.

When I handed over the cheque to the hospital, I noticed a self-contented smile in the face of Mr. Patra amidst lots of inexpressible pain in his heart for early recovery of his father. Subsequently, the operation became successful with replacement of one valve and repairing of the other. Mr. Patra left the hospital after one week with his father in a very cosy mood.

After discharge, expressing his gratitude, he telephoned me and said, “Sir, I am too fortunate to be a Central Govt. employee. I could be able to save the life  my father only for the provision of CGHS which facilitated me with an interest-free advance of Rs.165000/-. Otherwise, it would not have been possible on my part to give suitable and timely treatment to my father.”

This is not the only case, I have witnessed. As a Divisional Secretary, I have involved myself in hundred such cases for last 12 years. I cannot forget the case of Mr.P K Mishra for whom, Com. K V Sridharan, our ex-General Secretary has helped me a lot in obtaining approval from the Postal Directorate since the sanction amount was beyond the ceiling limit (Rs.200000/-) of the Head of the Circle. Mr. Mishra got a new life through the timely Medical Advance with successful transplantation of one kidney along with minor heart operation at the cost of rupees seven lakhs approximately, as I remember. Similarly, we have been able to save the life of Mr. K K Jena, one my colleagues with installation of two stents incurring expenditure around 3.5 lakhs including other medical expenses.

But due to the retrograde measures taken by the 7th CPC recommending abolition of interest free advances like the most essential Medical Expenses, now these low paid employees whose economic condition is not so good to instantly meet such heavy expenses  will certainly suffer and may die without timely/effective treatment.

Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, vide Consumer Education & Research Centre and others Vs. Union of India ( AIR 1995, Supreme Court 922) has held that the enjoyment of highest attainable standard of health is recognized  as a fundamental right  of all employees/ex-employees(Pensioners) in terms of Article 21 read with Articles 39, 41, 43 and 48 of the Constitution. In addition, While submitting the 71st Report  to the Rajya Sabha on 06.08.2013, the Departmental Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare has suggested to remove the deficiencies in the functioning of the CGHS and to establish one Super Speciality Hospital in each Metro City where a considerable numbers of CGHS beneficiaries are residing with their families.

Accordingly, at the time of submitting the Memorandum to 7th Central Pay Commission on common issues concerning all Central Govt. employees, the Confederation of Central Govt. Employees and Worker had logically appraised the Commission  with every justification to recommend the Govt., inter alia,

Ø  for removing the deficiencies in functioning of CGHS and to implement the recommendations of Parliamentary Standing Committee,

Ø  for filling up the shortage of doctors, specialists, para-medical staff etc. in all dispensaries,

Ø  for authorizing the in-charge of the wellness centres to refer any beneficiary for indoor treatment in any private recognized hospital  chooses by the beneficiary,

Ø  for attaching poly-clinics and commence Ayurvedic, Yoga, Homoeopathic and Unani to each wellness centre, equipping each wellness centre  with latest ECG / X-ray machine, Glucometer etc,

Ø  for allotting General/Private Wards on the basis of seriousness of ailment  and not on the basis of status of the beneficiary,

Ø  for raising of the ceiling limit of the Head of the Department to sanction reimbursement of Medical Expenses from Rs.200000 to Rs.500000/-,

Ø  to extend CS(MA) Rules, 1944 to pensioners residing outside CGHS area and treat them at par with serving employees ,

Ø  to  cover P&T pensioners who did not subscribe to CGHS while in service   under CGHS post retirement and merge all P&T dispensaries   with CGHS so that these pensioners can avail IPD/OPD benefits etc. and many more.

               But to the utter dissatisfaction and surprise of all Central Govt. employees and in spite of the general demand from the JCM-Staff Side to increase all the interest-free advances to three times their present value, the 7th CPC which submitted its report to the Govt. on 19th November, 2015 narrated the provision of granting interest free advances to Central Govt. employees as irrelevant and out-dated and recommended for abolition of such 12 interest-free advances including Advances for Medical treatment which is at present 90% of the package deal for specific measure illness. (Para 9.1.4 of  7th CPC Report).    

Without touching many aspects raised by the Staff Side, the Commission has only recommended introduction of health insurance scheme, merger of 33 Postal Dispensaries (since out of 52 Postal Dispensaries in toto, 19 have already merged) with CGHS and to explore the possibility of a combined entity of CGHS (Central Govt. Health Scheme) –ECHS (Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme) – RELHS (Railways Employees Liberalized Health Scheme) which may result in a very strong network of health facilities for the Central Government employees across the length and breadth of the country ( Para 9.5.18 of 7th CPC Report).

            Except the recommendation for introduction of health insurance scheme, the Commission has not analysed anywhere in its report in any manner the benefits the Central Govt. employees would avail from the scheme. The Commission in Para 9.5.16 has clearly noted  that although the Committee of Secretaries had given its ‘in principle’ approval way back in 2011, and an amount of Rs. 2,061 crore had been earmarked under the XII Five Year Plan, the Scheme has still not been implemented. So, there is no guarantee that the Govt. will accept the above recommendations. If no, what would be the fate of the serving employees who are now able to save their lives including that of their family members with the Medical Advance now recommended to be abolished. No one can consider this a welfare measure.

No doubt, acceptance of the recommendations of 7th CPC in the present form is   tantamount to inviting death without treatment. The Govt. needs to address this issue carefully before implementation of such exceedingly regressive recommendations of 7th CPC
 Source-AIPEUP-3, Bhubaneswar

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