Mumbai: After two years of wait, the standing committee of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) approved the ‘Aapli Chikitsa’ provision of subsidised blood tests in the municipal dispensaries, hospitals and maternity homes. According to the provision, no fees would be charged for both regular and advanced set of tests for Below Poverty Line (BPL) families and Rs 50 would be charged for others.
There are total 140 tests with 101 in the basic categories and 39 in the advanced categories. Before a heated debate in the standing committee meeting, the initial prices were fixed at Rs 100 for the basic set and Rs 200 for the advanced set. However, the opposition parties in standing committee demanded no fees should be charged fees for both the sets of tests, across all income categories.
Ravi Raja, the leader of Opposition from Congress argued, “Only poor patients visit the BMC hospitals and charging them would be unfair.” He proposed BMC should provide both the sets of tests free of cost. However, the Additional Municipal Commissioner (AMC) of the BMC Vijay Singhal expressed probable misuse of provisions by certain elements of the society.
In response to Singhal’s objection, Raes Shaikh of the Samajwadi Party opined that BMC should try this on trial and error method.
“The BMC can run this scheme of providing the blood tests for free on a trial and error basis. It will give us an idea whether any person really misuses it and it can be discussed at the standing committee.” While speaking of this scheme, Singhal said the total expected expenditure incurred by the BMC for these plans would be Rs 19.25 crore and the income earned through these tests would be Rs 1 crore. “The basic and advanced tests would otherwise have cost a person, Rs 800 and Rs 892 respectively in other government hospitals. We are subsidising and providing it at Rs 100 and Rs 200 each,” said Singhal.
This proposal was supported by the corporators of both the BJP and Shiv Sena. There are in all 224 facilities under the BMC, where these tests can be conducted. These include 16 small hospitals, 5 special hospitals, 28 maternity hospitals and 175 dispensaries would be available.