The healthcare and medical facilities provided under the banner of Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) suffer from several anomalies, inadequacies, and discriminatory provisions. While right to health care and medical facilities should be seen as an integral facet of the right to life equally for all, irrespective of the individual'sstatus, the big babus have ensured that hassle-free world class health care, diagnostic and other medical facilities at posh private nursing homes, hospitals, health care centres at government cost and expenses is available only to the MPs and upper strata of the government employees. The nursing home facilities in government hospitals are also mostly cornered by such higher strata beneficiaries and generally remain out of reach of ?commoners?. Medical specialists attached to the CGHS dispensaries, remain unavailable on their slotted week days of visit, as they are away on what is termed as VIP duties.
There also exits a complex classification and sub-classification of CGHS beneficiaries in various categories; based on which the scale of facilities admissible to them under the scheme is decided. The parameters and norms differ from beneficiary to beneficiary depending on: the stage and scale of pay or pension, the position he holds or held in the government, whether as an employee or pensioner of some ?purely government department? (whatever it may mean) or Central Autonomous body, and so forth; as if the life of a ?commoner? is of lesser value.
What is astoundingly appalling is that the pensioner-beneficiaries of autonomous bodies are not treated at par with their counterpart retired from purely government service- particularly in the matter of grant of credit facilities in the recognized private healthcare-centres, nursing homes etc. And this is where it hurts them the most.
Even while they perpetuate and practice such blatant discrimination or for that matter make provisions for it in the rule book, they are not held accountable for the miseries caused thereby to the poor autonomous body pensioner- beneficiaries of the scheme. The traumatic experience and the plight of an autonomous body pensioner?beneficiary of CGHS?when in the evening of his life, suffering from age-induced infirmities and debilitating diseases, has to run around complying with quite a few absurd formalities, placating highly inflated egos of concerned babus (still afflicted with colonial mindset), getting department'spermission before and after the treatment, incurring all expenses from his own slender resources on the spot in the first instance irrespective of the enormity of the amount of expenditure involved, making repeated rounds to the hospital for getting the bills verified by the CGHS medical authorities then to the department from which retired, submitting reimbursement bills that are very much watered down for one reason or the other, settling silly objections raised only for objections? sake, facing callous indifference, unwarranted hostility, objections and rejections all the way?can better be imagined than described. He is subjected to this unreasonable discrimination only for the sin of his retiring from an autonomous body. While a pensioner-beneficiary retiring from an autonomous body like CSIR in a disgusting display of blatant discrimination is denied credit facilities in the CGHS empanelled private hospitals, nursing homes and other health care centres to which his counterpart retiring from the Government service is eligible, simmering discontentment among this section of beneficiaries is quite conspicuous. Why this should be so particularly when the CSIR is a hundred per cent Central Government autonomous body working under the aegis and control of Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India and the Prime Minister of India is its ex-officio president? For no fault of his a CSIR pensioner-beneficiary is subjected to blatant discrimination even when he is required to make contribution to the scheme similar in scale and amount to that of a similarly placed Central Government pensioner; thanks to the whims, fancies and arrogance of the big babus in the Government who insert discriminatory provisions in the rule-book with calculated impunity.
The anomalies are many. Why all pensioners and retirees not treated at par? Is the life of a Class IV employee who after retirement devotes all his spare time doing useful social work in the service of the community for the welfare and well-being of the people, in any way less valuable.
As respected senior citizens of this country, all pensioners should be treated at par particularly in the matter of health care and medical facilities; distinctions of posts and positions held whether retired from so-called purely government service or hundred per cent Central government funded autonomous body must immediately go.
Among pensioners age and age only should be the criterion for according ?Priority? in the matter of providing health care and medical facilities which otherwise should necessarily be unvarying in scale and standard for all the pensioners across the board.
(The writer can be contacted at C1A-42 B M.I.G. Flats, Janakpuri, New Delhi-110 058.)