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Haryana: IAS officer Khemka demands probe in all Covid admissions, suggests refunds for overcharged patients

The Haryana government has cracked down majorly on hospitals overcharging Covid-19 patients in the state, with the administration capping the rates of Covid-19 admission/ treatment rates in private hospitals.

Written by Varinder Bhatia | Chandigarh |
May 26, 2021 6:56:51 pm
The Haryana government had on Tuesday capped the rates for laboratory investigations related to Covid-19 treatment, a move that is likely to come as a big relief for patients. (Express Photo by Kamleshwar Singh/File)

Senior IAS officer Ashok Khemka, who is among various administrative secretaries appointed by the Haryana government in various districts to look into the Covid-19 preparedness and infrastructure, has asked the state health department to look into all the patient admissions in state hospitals after June 25 last year, conduct a thorough inquiry and refund the excess amount, if any, charged by hospitals to families of patients.

The Haryana government has cracked down majorly on hospitals overcharging Covid-19 patients in the state, with the administration capping the rates of Covid-19 admission/ treatment rates in private hospitals.

Though, the initial government order to cap the rates of Covid treatment in the state — first issued on June 25 last year and then reiterated in September — mentioned “only Haryana residents”, it was later revised (on May 4 this year) to include all patients admitted to Haryana’s hospitals for Covid-19 treatment, irrespective of their place of residence.

As per the government’s instructions, the hospital rates per patient per day of admission in non-National Accreditation Board of Hospitals & Healthcare Providers (NABH) accredited hospitals is Rs 8000 (Isolation bed including supportive care and oxygen), Rs 13000 for ICU (without ventilator care) and Rs 15000 for ICU with ventilator care.

These rates are Rs 10,000, Rs 15,000 and Rs 18,000 per day for Joint Commissioner International (JCI)/NABH accredited (including entry-level NABH) hospitals, respectively.

Khemka, in his letter to Additional Chief Secretary (Health) Rajeev Arora, on Tuesday, said, “An inquiry into the earlier billings by the private hospitals may be carried out for all Covid admissions since June 25 last year and excess amounts paid by a patient may be recovered from the hospital and reimbursed to the patient or his relative, in case the patient is dead.”

Pointing at the non-implementation of government’s orders at the ground level, Khemka added, “The order issued under Section 2 of the Epidemic Act, 1897 is binding on all private hospitals/ medical colleges in the state for treatment of Covid-19 patients. It is clear from a conjoint reading of sub-paras 1, 2, 5 of Para 2 of the said order that the prescribed rates are all-inclusive — including lab investigations, radiological diagnostics, monitoring charges, drugs, consumables, doctor’s visits/ consultation, using care, physiotherapy, procedural charges, transfusion of blood, deploying of equipment, diet — as per the National Guidelines for management of Covid-19. The package costs also include the cost of medications thereof, for the duration of care of Covid-19. Since many of the Covid-19 patients have conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular problems, the charges for medical care of such comorbidities formed part of the package. However, experimental therapies (e.g Remdesivir etc.) Covid-19 diagnostic test (2) and IL-6 levels were excluded”.

He added, “Unfortunately, the instructions are breached often. There are complaints of overcharging by several times. During the review meeting held on May 21 this year, the health department was found unaware of the said order. Hence, the contents of the order were read out during the meeting and its strict implemention requested.”

The Haryana government had on Tuesday capped the rates for laboratory investigations related to Covid-19 treatment, a move that is likely to come as a big relief for patients.

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