IAS/ IPS officers can now get medical treatment abroad!

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by Ray, Sep 19, 2013.

  1. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    IAS/ IPS officers can now get medical treatment abroad!

    I haven't seen any news item about the above, and I got to know about it when I read a great piece by Rama Baru in the Hindu:

    The Government of India’s Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has decided to reimburse approved expenditure on treatment abroad, for a defined range of medical conditions, for officers of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and Indian Police Service (IPS). In doing so, it is extending to them a benefit available to Members of Parliament and officers of the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) when posted abroad. In addition, the travel and treatment costs for the officer and an attendant will be borne by the government. The order confers benefits over and above the entitlements under the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS).

    The existing rules, according to Baru, are as follows:

    Existing rules permit civil servants to secure reimbursement for medical treatment abroad or at a private hospital in India based on what it would cost to secure the same treatment in a private ward at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi.

    If the government wishes to reimburse treatment of IAS/IPS officers at actual rates at a private hospital in India (and not at the AIIMS rate), it would be understandable. Allowing officers to go abroad for treatment is a different matter. The move, alas, will only reinforce popular perceptions of the collusion between politicians and babus in appropriating the spoils of government. The conclusion that most people will draw is that now that the politicians have done the babus a big favour, they can count on the babus to help them out where required.

    I do not know whether MPs have raised this issue in parliament; if they have not, that would not be a surprise. Netas already enjoy the privilege that the babus will now get.

    PS: After writing the above post, I checked the news online. It appears that medical treatment abroad will be permitted only for certain complicated ailments, which are mentioned in the order. Presumably, these are ailments for which comparable treatments are not available in India. This point is not properly reflected in the article I have cited. I have had to tone done my criticism somewhat and have modified my original post accordingly. I am hesitant to take my criticism back entirely. Which ailment requires treatment abroad is a matter of judgement and such judgement, in our scheme of things, may end up being exercised independently of the merits of a given case.

    The Big Picture: IAS/ IPS officers can now get medical treatment abroad!

    *********************

    I heard a TV Debate, where Ms Bedi IPS stated that the reasons wherein one could go abroad is so vague, that anything can be covered as 'complicated'.

    And to imagine India boast of 'medical tourism' and the Govt claims that there are areas where India has no facilities!
     
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  3. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    An official vote of no confidence

    RAMA V. BARU

    [​IMG]

    The decision to reimburse IAS and IPS officers for medical treatment abroad defies all economic logic and raises concerns about the government’s commitment to improving India’s health-care system

    The Government of India’s Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has decided to reimburse approved expenditure on treatment abroad, for a defined range of medical conditions, for officers of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and Indian Police Service (IPS). In doing so, it is extending to them a benefit available to Members of Parliament and officers of the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) when posted abroad. In addition, the travel and treatment costs for the officer and an attendant will be borne by the government. The order confers benefits over and above the entitlements under the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS).

    At a time when the government is concerned about a high and rising fiscal deficit, and the rupee has steeply depreciated, this additional benefit to government officials appears doubly bizarre. The “fiscal constraint” argument has been repeatedly made by officials who have been critical of ideas pertaining to universal health-care provisioning.

    WRONG SIGNALS

    The Plan discussions on universalising health care have required a substantial increase in outlays for health for strengthening public health services. However, the constant refrain of the Planning Commission and the government has been that the required amount could not be allocated due to budgetary constraints. As there have been competing priorities, a balance has had to be maintained. Ministers and bureaucrats have made this case forcefully and silenced academic and activist communities who have demanded increased funding. It is ironic that the same constituency is not worried about using the taxpayer’s money to give itself additional privileges.

    Apart from the fiscal ramifications of this bureaucratic generosity, this decision, as indeed the existing privilege enjoyed by MPs, raises several other questions about the political signals such a decision would send about the policy on public health care in India.

    Existing rules permit civil servants to secure reimbursement for medical treatment abroad or at a private hospital in India based on what it would cost to secure the same treatment in a private ward at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi. The revised rules entitle all IAS, IPS and IFS officials to seek the same level of reimbursement for treatment abroad that IFS officers are entitled to when on a foreign posting. Not just that. There will be reimbursement of the travel fare.

    IMPAIRS HEALTH CARE

    Just as MPs have to get such expenditure approved by the Parliamentary Standing Committee of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, government officials have to secure the approval of a committee of specialists in government hospitals. Which group of MPs would deny another MP such a benefit? It would be interesting to see if any MP has ever been denied this request. Given the relationship between officers of the IAS and IPS and government doctors at the State and Central levels, how many specialists in government hospitals would have the courage to reject any application from a government official? Professional scrutiny of such applications would then become a mere formality.

    This order also raises larger questions about the commitment of the government towards the domestic health-care sector, especially the public sector. The fact is that the decline of government hospitals was in part associated with the decision of ministers and officials to give themselves the benefit of being monetarily compensated for private health care. Ironically, their departure as users from public sector hospitals partly contributed to the decline of the public sector. On the other hand, their usurpation of whatever was being offered by specialised public sector institutions meant marginalisation of ordinary people in these institutions.

    Studies have shown that the retreat of governmental leadership from treatment in government hospitals, sometimes justified in the name of the poor, has seriously impaired the quality of health care in the public sector. Would their retreat from even private, superspeciality hospitals at home not have a similar, negative impact? What would the queuing up of political leaders and government officials for treatment abroad do to India’s attempt to establish itself as a destination for what is dubbed “medical tourism”?

    Fiscal subsidies and tariff concessions were given to private businesses setting up for-profit health-care facilities in India in the name of the poor and in the name of offering world-class services at home. When government officials lobbied for the inclusion of private for-profit health providers in the CGHS, it was known that there would be an inflation of costs. For the same procedure, corporate hospitals began charging several times the cost that was incurred in public hospitals, and the government began reimbursing this.

    Such concessions were also justified on the grounds that this would save the country precious foreign exchange because Indians would secure world-class medical care in the country itself. However, it has now become commonplace for political leaders to go abroad for medical treatment at the taxpayer’s expense. Now, civil servants also want to secure this benefit for themselves.

    This constitutes nothing less than a vote of no-confidence on the part of India’s political and administrative leadership in the country’s own health-care system.

    AT TAXPAYER’S COST

    Economic policymakers have often justified concessions to foreign investors in the fields of health and education on the grounds that this would discourage Indians from spending precious foreign exchange abroad. But this new order will only encourage public officials to seek medical treatment abroad, at the taxpayer’s cost.

    The usurpation of privilege at the taxpayer’s cost shows utter callousness in policy thinking and is morally reprehensible and irresponsible. There is enough evidence in the country that a large section of poor and middle classes is impoverished due to the high cost of medical treatment; they are not covered by any insurance. The recently introduced public insurance schemes for the poor are wanting in many respects. Given this, how can anyone morally justify the order passed by the DoPT, or indeed the privilege already being enjoyed by elected representatives?

    (Rama V. Baru is professor, Centre for Social Medicine and Community Health, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.)

    An official vote of no confidence - The Hindu
     
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  4. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Let taxpayers pay for ‘our’ treatment abroad, while they rot in government hospitals: Harsh Taneja

    Nivedita Menon

    Guest post by HARSH TANEJA

    The Government of India has recently gifted its bureaucrats a privilege. The state will reimburse the total cost of medical treatment abroad for the three highest civil services officers (the IAS, IPS and IFS).

    And this entitlement is not limited to procedures that cannot be carried out in India.

    According to this newspaper report, these officers and their families can decide to go abroad for even routine procedures such as bypass surgeries. A privilege that is unfair, undemocratic and borders on institutionalized corruption. Here’s why.

    First, the most obvious argument pointed out in the newspaper article itself, is the huge expenditure to the exchequer. However that to me is the beginning of why this is problematic. The following two concerns are perhaps more grave.

    The first argument is that such an entitlement cannot be limited to the officers of the Three Elite Services. Let me explain. India has a socialist public health system. In other words, our public hospitals treat every citizen according to their income. The poor are charged the least and so on. (Certain government jobs entitle all employees to medical treatment at government expense). The network consists of primary health centers, district and state hospitals and more specialized referral hospitals such as the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) at New Delhi. Every patient irrespective of social or economic status can be referred up to AIIMS for treatment. So if treatment abroad has to be on government expense, why should it not extend to all beneficiaries of the Public Health system? Should the option to go abroad for treatment at government expense be based on your status in the government or on the complexity of your illness?

    Readers familiar with Animal Farm may remember what the pigs did for themselves.

    The second argument is that such policies will only lead to further degradation of the Public Health Infrastructure. I recently had written about how a state hospital was unable to treat a case of hydrocephalus, a rather common condition among infants and elderly. The IAS run our health ministry and hence ensure the functioning of this system. If they are allowed to avoid and escape the system for their own use, they will never empathize with the concerns of the infirm common man. An analogy can be found in public transport. India’s public transport is pathetic because those who oversee its smooth functioning are not its users. They ride chauffeur driven cars, which contribute to their apathy towards the plight of those who ride trains and buses.

    This law needs to be immediately challenged in the courts. Beyond the most direct arguments of an expenditure the government should not incur, there are other grave concerns.

    Such policies are based on flawed principles.

    I am willing to work with any individual or organization that wants to file a PIL, organize a protest and represent against this decision. Please email me/ comment here and I will be all ears.

    Harsh Taneja can be contacted at [email protected]


    Let taxpayers pay for ‘our’ treatment abroad, while they rot in government hospitals: Harsh Taneja | Kafila
     
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  5. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Applicable to the officer, family members along with an attendant.

    Barnum and Bailey in India and abroad!

    Not applicable to the rank and file or so I learnt in the TV Debate!
     
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  6. parijataka

    parijataka Senior Member Senior Member

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    I want to stop paying tax NOW.

    On a serious note, someone should file a PIL against this proposal.

    What is good for the citizens of India should be good for the babus and netas.
     
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  7. dhananjay1

    dhananjay1 Regular Member

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    Just one more perk for the officers.
     
  8. sayareakd

    sayareakd Moderator Moderator

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    just send them to AIMS and make them to wait in line for their treatment.
     
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  9. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Not officers, senior officers who can tweak the files and the reports!
     
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  10. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

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    They are often in bed with the politicians so they also have to appeased.
     
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