The empty place around the dinner table is painful any day of the year. Today, as we remember friends and family who are no longer with us, we support the women who have lost their spouses to COVID and are struggling without income and saddled with debt from the medical bills, many of which are far in excess of the amounts stipulated for COVID care. Hear them speak: Santap Sabha – Anger Assembly.
Uniting under the banner of Corona Ekal Mahila Punarvasan Samiti, the women widowed by COVID are determined to address the root cause of their debt, namely overcharging by private hospitals, initially estimated at 1000 crore rupees or 134 million dollars in the state of Maharashtra alone.
Can they get their money back?
You have already helped start the process! During the summer’s 2nd wave of COVID, a patient reached out to the helpline AID supported in Maharashtra complaining of heavy overcharging. When staff helped him get his excess medical bill refunded, a movement was sparked. Many thousands of people had suffered the same. You may wonder – how will people in rural and tribal areas, deep in medical debt and struggling to survive, document their cases and apply for amounts due to them?
The task is huge but so is our network of grassroots partners ready to take on the forces of corruption with people power.
AID Partner SATHI is working with organizations throughout the state gathering information about the problems that patients and the health system itself has suffered during the pandemic to address them from the ground up. Immediately and urgently, they are providing technical support to rural people in poverty who have faced high overcharging to apply for refunds. First priority is COVID widows who courageusly lead the way.