The list of treatment procedures approved under the Kalaignar Health Insurance Scheme for Life Saving Treatments would be expanded, said Health Minister M.R.K.Paneerselvam here on Wednesday.

"More treatment procedures will be approved (for being eligible to be covered under the scheme) based on the requirement and feedback from doctors," Mr. Paneerselvam told reporters after chairing a consultative meeting with representatives of hospitals empanelled under the scheme in eight districts of the region at the K.A.P.Viswanatham Government Medical College here. Currently, about 500 procedures have been approved under the scheme for 51 diseases/ailments.

He cautioned the hospitals against charging fees in excess prescribed by the government for the treatments. Vigilance committees have been formed to monitor the implementation of the scheme and hospitals found collecting excess fee or performing wrong treatment procedures would be removed from the list of empanelled hospitals, he warned. So far only two cases of wrong treatment have been reported and the cases from Kanyakumari district are being investigated.

Speaking at the meeting earlier, Mr. Paneerselvam suggested that the empanelled hospitals conduct special camps in rural areas to identify patients for treatment under the scheme. Attacking critics of the scheme, who suggest that the treatments could be provided in government hospitals, the Minister said though the infrastructure and standards of government hospitals were being raised on a par with private hospitals there was long waiting lists of patients for undergoing life saving treatments/surgeries in them. The insurance scheme was intended to ensure that the life saving treatments were available on a larger scale to the masses without any delay and possible fatalities.

S.Vijayakumar, Project Director, Tamil Nadu Health Systems Project, and Special Secretary, Health Department, said so far about 1.05 crore families have been enrolled under the scheme and 40 lakh smart cards have been issued. About 10,860 persons have undergone treatments/surgeries. The State government has so far sanctioned Rs.517 crores to be paid as premium to the Star Health Insurance Company.

Patients transported by the 108 Emergency Response Service would also be allowed to be taken to empanelled hospitals henceforth if they were covered under the scheme. All hospitals were required to have a dedicated medical officer and a liaison officer for the scheme. Hospitals cannot put patients under waiting list.

S.Prakash, Medical Director, Star Health and Allied Insurance Company Limited, said hospitals should not treat patients covered under the scheme as free cases. Though the ceiling on the treatment costs was Rs.1 lakh under the scheme, in some deserving cases up to Rs.1.50 lakhs have been allowed.

Collector T.Soundiah appealed to the Health Minister to allow more time for photographing omitted beneficiaries in the rural areas and also to cover the beneficiaries in the city.

Earlier, a cross-section of doctors pleaded for inclusion of various treatments/surgeries and also the enhancement of the cost allowed for certain treatment procedures. Responding to the suggestions, Mr.Vijayakumar said necessary instructions would be issued soon and enhancement in cost would be allowed in special cases on a case-to-case basis.

Dr.Prakash said the company has already made arrangements for supply of USFDA- approved stents at costs much lesser than the market price. Similarly, steps would be taken to arrange for supply of valves for cardiac surgeries. Based on performance, the grading of the hospitals would be reviewed, he said.

K.N.Nehru, Transport Minister, N.Selvaraj, Forest Minister, K.N.Sekaran and M.Rajasekaran, MLAs, and M.Kamatchi, Advisor, TN Health System Project, spoke.