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Kerala HC asks govt to regulate Covid treatment costs in private hospitals

KC Gopakumar Kochi | Updated on April 30, 2021

Ill-equipped The private sector has failed to deliver proper public healthcare

A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Friday allowed the State government to consult private hospital managements on reducing the Covid-19 treatment cost and inform it on the outcome of the discussion.

The Court observed that the government has an “unexpendable” role to “contain profiteering and the chase of lucre” by all stakeholders including private hospitals in the midst of a spike in Covid-19 cases.

The Bench comprising Justices Devan Ramachandran and MR Anitha passed the order when a public interest litigation complaining about private hospitals in the State overcharging for Covid treatment came up for hearing.

‘On regulating pricing’

State Attorney KV Sohan appearing for the government submitted that the government had issued an order last year regulating the treatment cost in private hospitals and it still held the ground. It would certainly consider if any further downward revision could be made after consulting all the necessary stakeholders.

The court observed that the ordinary and hard-working citizens were torn between the social and emotional fallout of distancing protocol and lock down on one hand and the “excruciating load of medical treatment cost” on the other. The court said that the role of the State government in regulating the costs in private hospitals was fraught with problems. But when its citizens were pushed to the precipice, the government had an “unexpendable role to control and contain profiteering”.

Following safety norms

Acting on another public interest litigation, the Bench also directed the State government and the State Police Chief to take effective steps to ensure that no social or political gathering, meetings, processions or parade of any kind in violation of the Covid protocols as well as the government and election commission directives between May 1 and 4. The court also ordered that swift action be taken to avert and prevent any violation of these orders under the laws including the Epidemic Diseases Act and the Disaster Management Act.

With the infection spreading rapidly, strict prevention, rather than punitive action after infractions was the need of the hour.

Published on April 30, 2021

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