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Kerala High Court: Enforce govt rates for treating Covid in private sector

KC Gopakumar Kochi | Updated on May 10, 2021

A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Monday directed the State government to strictly implement the order on the rates fixed for treatment of Covid patients in private hospitals and nursing homes.

The Bench comprising Justice Devan Ramachandran and Justice Kauser Edappaganth also made it clear that the charge for the 50 per cent beds reserved in private hospitals for Covid-19 patients would be governed by the government order.

The Bench also directed the Incident Commanders appointed by the government under the Disaster Management Act to ensure that private hospitals and nursing homes comply with the order.

The court ordered that the redressal mechanism for overcharging by as provided in the new government order be put in place forthwith and a common toll free number established for providing medical assistance including the availability of ICU beds etc to Covid-19 patients.

Charges set

When a public interest ligation seeking to regulate the charges in private hospitals for Covid-19 treatment came up for hearing, KV Sohan, State Attorney submitted that the government had issued an order setting the rates. As per the order, the rate for general wards in the National Accredited Hospitals (NABH hospitals) and the non-NABH hospital would be ₹2,910 and ₹2,645 respectively. The charge would include oxygen, medicine and drugs, nursing and boarding.

However, high-end investigations such as CT scans had not been included. The rates of PPE kits, medications, and such other tests would be governed by the maximum retail price or any other notification or order regulating the same as and when published.

He also submitted that the District Medical Officers had been designated as the Grievances Redressal Officer to look into the complaints of overcharging by private hospitals and nursing homes. A state-level authority consisting of three doctors would consider the appeal against the order of the district-level grievances officers.

Medical oxygen supply

As for the allocation of medical oxygen, Assistant Solicitor General P Vijayakumar assured that he would inform the court of the progress on the request made by the State government for allocation of more medical oxygen. He submitted that there was a dynamic mechanism for monitoring the allocation of oxygen to various States.

During the hearing, the court expressed its concern over the exorbitant charges being collected by private hospitals for treating Covid -19 patients and observed that the hospitals were looting ordinary citizens by charging high rates for treatment. It pointed out that those PPE kits were priced at ₹22,000 and even Kanji (rice gruel) was charged at ₹1,300 by some private hospitals.

Published on May 10, 2021

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