Mumbai: With the COVID-19 pandemic over, rates of diagnostic testing have dropped from around Rs 223 to just Rs 86 for the BMC‘s ‘Aapli Chikitsa’ scheme, under which citizens can get tested at civic hospitals and dispensaries for just Rs 50.
The BMC subsidizes the testing by paying the difference amount to the empaneled diagnostic companies.
With the drastic drop in rates, the BJP has now asked the BMC to reduce testing rates to Rs 10 instead of the current Rs 50 for citizens, and is looking to make it a poll plank ahead of the upcoming BMC polls. In the new tenders floated by BMC, diagnostic company Krsnaa Diagnostics has quoted just Rs 86 for carrying out tests under the ‘Aapli Chikitsa’ scheme.
While the tests are free of cost for poor patients, others need to pay Rs 50 for tests. The BMC, however, had estimated around Rs 220 per patient as price for path lab’s services. With testing rates now dropping to just Rs 86 for basic tests and Rs 344 for advance tests, the BJP has demanded that the BMC should now charge only Rs 10 per person for all tests.
In the current tenders, the company is expected to carry out 20 lakh basic tests and 3 lakh advance tests for which the BMC will have to shell out around Rs 27.5 crore against its estimated cost of Rs 91 crore. Officials said the BMC had expected to shell out around Rs 91 crore for the scheme for 4 years based on the earlier rates quoted by diagnostic companies of around Rs 223.
“BMC must pass on the reduction in cost to citizens. Since the rates were around Rs 223 per person, BMC was charging citizens Rs 50 for testing, and subsidizing the rest of the cost. In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, people did ‘t get their regular testing done, and there were financial hardships. The BMC must now reduce the rates to Rs 10,” said former BJP corporator Prabhakar Shinde In letter to municipal commissioner Iqbal Chahal.
“The new rates also show that in the past, companies were looting the BMC in connivance with BMC officials, and had turned the ‘Aapli Chikitsa’ scheme into an Aapli Takkewari (our percentage) scheme,” Shinde said in his letter.
“The BMC must also ensure that the company tests at least 2,000 patients per day on a target system and not a system of minimum testing so that tests are widely and easily available, failing which the company must be blacklisted,” said former BJP corporator Vinod Mishra. When contacted, additional municipal commissioner (health) Dr. Sanjeev Kumar said the issue was under scrutiny.