While the common man has to stand in long queues for hours to get cards under the Deen Dayal Swasthya Seva Yojana (DDSSY) renewed in order to avail of health insurance, the government spends crores of rupees on the health of its ministers and MLAs. Even after having a DDSSY card many people do not get the full benefits and have to spend a big amount from their own pockets in private hospitals just to get treated.
Overall the State is under tremendous financial pressure due to the mining ban and a slowdown in the tourism sector but has spent a whopping Rs. 10.3 crore on its MLAs treatment in India and abroad.
Since 2012, when the BJP came to power, the State has spent Rs 10.30cr on the treatment of MLAs, of which Rs 5.72 cr was spent on the treatment of former chief minister Manohar Parrikar, who died in March this year of pancreatic cancer.
Parrikar was treated at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Research Centre in New York, USA, where the bills came to Rs 1.58 cr and 2.86 cr. Parrikar’s brief treatment at Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai also cost Rs 7,83,136, whereas his AIIMS stay cost Rs 1,43,926.
Besides, the air ambulances in which Parrikar was taken to Delhi and Mumbai cost the State exchequer Rs 57, 63,499. His air tickets bill to New York, Mumbai and Delhi and vice-versa, along with his son and associates, has accounted for Rs 35, 71,958.
Interestingly, when Parrikar was being treated at his private residence in Dona Paula, doctors from All India Institute of Medical Sciences visited him for chemotherapy procedure. The bills of the air travel of these doctors amounted to Rs 6, 33,205.
Putting all these amounts together, the total came up to Rs. 5,72, 55, 042/-, which was reimbursed by the State.
Apart from Parrikar, the medical bills of the former deputy chief minister Francis D’Souza and former power minister Pandurang Madkaikar also crossed the Rs 1cr mark.
D’Souza, who succumbed to cancer, claimed Rs 2.48cr in the form of medical reimbursements from the State Legislative Assembly. D’Souza, who was highly diabetic, was also treated in the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Research Centre in New York. His bill of treatment in the US was Rs 1.84 cr.
D’Souza’s other bills included Lilavati Hospital, Mumbai (24,64,646), Nanavati Hospital, Mumbai (Rs 3,38,545) and Healthway Hospital, Old Goa (Rs 11,61,330). The State has also paid for D’Souza’s daughter’s treatment in Galaxy Hospital in Mapusa quite a few times. Her bills alone totaled up to Rs. 13, 09,758/-
Former power minister Pandurang Madkaikar was also in the list of medical reimbursements having claimed Rs 1.05cr for his medical treatment.
Madkaikar had suffered a brain stroke while he was in a Mumbai hotel. He was rushed to Mumbai’s Kolkilaben Hospital, wherein he underwent brain surgery. His bill for surgery and treatment at the hospital came to Rs 66, 91,125. He was also treated in Healthway, Old Goa.
The list of other MLAs (past & present) medical expenses which have been reimbursed to them by the State are as follows
Anant Sheth- Rs. 34,653/-
Avertano Furtado –Rs. 65000/-
Benjamin Silva – Rs. 184,469-
Dayanand Narvekar –Rs. 52,820/-
Dayanand Mandrekar – Rs. 30,132/-
Dilip Parulekar- Rs. 33, 44,094/-
Damodar Naik – Rs. 76,430/-
Francis Silveira- Rs. 2,44,206/-
Ganesh Gaonkar- Rs. Rs. 3,16, 119/-
Isidore Fernandes- Rs. 6,90,120/-
Jose Luis Cabral Almeida- Rs. 4,05, 201/-
Kiran Kandolkar- Rs. 4, 12,974/-
Laxmikant Parsekar- Rs. 25,376/-
Lavoo Mamledar –Rs. 29,150/-
Milind Naik – Rs. 66,131/-
Pratap Gawas – Rs. 95,225/-
Prasad Gaonkar- Rs. 1,69,272/-
Subash Phaldessai- Rs. 3,23,365/-
Victoria Fernandes- Rs. 1,46,901/-
Vishnu Surya Wagh- Rs. 8,87,268/-
Wilfred D’Sa- Rs. 88,261/-
Jayesh Salgaonkar – Rs. 3,31,842/-
Digambar Kamat- Rs. 1,29,606/-
The above expenses include those of their families too. Adding up all the amounts, including those spent on Parrikar, D’Souza, and Madkaikar, the grand total comes up to Rs. 10.30 crore.
It is pertinent to note that while the common Goemkar including senior citizens struggle to avail of basic medical facilities, Ministers, MLAs, and their families make merry at the expense of the taxpayer. It is even more appalling to note that not only the MLAs but the entire family is covered under the medical scheme of the Goa Legislative Secretariat.
Meanwhile, the Karnataka legislature has issued an order asking the State Assembly secretariat to ask MLAs to avail medical facilities only in government hospitals. The bills of the treatment availed at private hospitals will not be approved, henceforth. The move aims to cut down on increasing medical bills of elected politicians.
When sources at Herald asked whether there is an upper limit for MLAs as in the case of common man, who gets up to Rs 4.5 lakh under the DDSSY scheme, a legislature official said there was no such limit. “There’s no limit on medical expenses of MLAs. Whenever treatment exceeds the normal range of expenses, the bills are cleared by the Speaker,” an official said on condition of anonymity.