Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal Saturday approved the recommendations by an expert committee for capping Covid-19 treatment cost in private hospitals in the city. The committee, led by NITI Aayog member Dr V K Paul, had fixed the rates for isolation beds and ICU beds with and without ventilator at Rs 8,000-10,000, 13,000-15,000 and 15,000-18,000 respectively.
The decision was approved in a meeting by Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA), headed by the LG, which was also attended by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
As per the approved guidelines, the charges will be applicable to all beds till 60% of the total capacity of a hospital. Earlier, hospitals were charging Rs 24,000-25,000 for an isolation bed, Rs 34,000-43,000 for an ICU bed without ventilator, and Rs 44,000-54,000 for an ICU bed with ventilator, excluding PPE charges.
“The rates recommended for private hospital beds would be all-inclusive… The package rates would include cost of medical care for underlying co-morbid conditions…for the duration of care for Covid,” a statement by the LG house stated.
The guidelines were decided on a day the city saw 3,630 cases and 77 deaths. While the total cases are now 56,746, the number of people that have recovered rose to 31,294, boosted by 7,725 people recovering between Thursday and Friday. The recovery rate has jumped to 55.1% and the total active cases in Delhi are now 23,340.
As many as 5,981 people are admitted in hospitals of which 3,601 are in private hospitals. The decision to cap treatment charges was taken after complaints by Covid-19 patients against private hospitals for charging exorbitant rates for treatment.
The Delhi government in a statement said it had pushed for increasing the number of beds with the capped rates after the Centre recommended reserving a lower percentage of beds.
“After deliberations, it was unanimously decided to cap price of all the reserved beds for Covid patients which will benefit the common man and leave no scope for arbitrary overcharging,” said the statement. The state health department has also been asked to set up an efficient system for feedback and grievance redressal so as to strictly ensure implementation of the recommendations.
“The committee’s recommendations in respect of treatment charges are encouraging. However, we do not know if the rates subsume the costs of managing co-morbidities, high-end medicines, and investigations… Given the nature of Covid-19, severely-affected patients are experiencing lengthy admissions… Even at these rates, the costs to Covid patients will not be affordable,” said Malini Asola, the co-convenor of the All India Drug Action Network, a group assisting Covid patients across the country.
“While we support transparency of pricing, hospitals are incurring considerably increased expenses on both non-Covid and Covid patient care. It is important to ensure there is no compromise in the quality of care or the safety of healthcare professionals. We, therefore, request the committee to review the recommendations,” Fortis Healthcare said.
Dr Harish Pillai, Member, FICCI Health Services Committee, said the body had suggested a pricing structure which was ignored. “Forcing private hospitals to accept arbitrary pricing will result in more hardships and also push several units into financial distress and closure,” he said.