New Delhi: The health ministry Tuesday rejected a media report that the government was set to hike treatment charges at Delhi`s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), saying the report was "speculative" and a "distortion of facts".
However, the ministry clarified that it has decided to raise charges for services and procedures in private rooms to drive down costs of services and procedures in general wards. But this enhancement in charges has not been put into effect yet, it added.
In a statement, the health ministry said: "The government`s attention has been drawn to a news item in a section of the press that the AIIMS plans to introduce user charges for all facilities. The news report is speculative and based on subjective interpretation of facts."
Media reports claimed that after the health minister`s proposal to raise charges for private wards, the hospital has initiated a process to determine user charges and that a circular was issued to all heads of departments and centres recently.
According to the report, the circular asked for list of procedures for which user charges are intended to be fixed and the rate for these procedures in private hospitals.
The health ministry, however, countered the report. It said no proposal was considered by the standing finance committee or the governing body either to increase the charges for general wards or to introduce new charges.
The standing committee and the governing body of the AIIMS, it said, "have approved a proposal for increasing the charges for private rooms and for various procedures and services provided to patients admitted to private wards."
"It has been decided that the additional revenue to be generated through such enhancement would be used to drive down the cost for various services and procedures in the general wards," the ministry statement said.
"Even this enhancement (of rates in private wards) has not been put into effect as AIIMS is yet to set in place the required mechanisms for providing required consumables and medicines etc. that private ward patients are presently required to get on their own," it added.
The health ministry said that the circular issued by the financial advisor at AIIMS in November asking for various user charges in the institute is based on a questionnaire developed by the cost accounting unit of the ministry of finance.
"It only seeks to collect information about the costs being incurred on various services and procedures in the institute and also to determine whether the user charges have been determined rationally and are not excessive. This was not intended for increasing the user charges or maximising revenue," it clarified.
The ministry said that the report about cost hike is based on distorted representation of facts.
The health ministry last week presented a proposal to hike private ward charges at AIIMS by up to 76 percent, where the rent of A class deluxe room would escalate from Rs.1,700 per day to approximately Rs.3,000.
A hike in user charges at AIIMS was earlier mooted in 2005, but was rolled back after it met with widespread protest.