The state government on Monday decided to continue to reserve 80 per cent beds in private hospitals and nursing homes across the state for Covid-19 treatment. Prices of these beds will continue to remain capped as per rates fixed by the government.
However, from now on, only 50 per cent of non-isolation beds and 80 per cent of beds available for isolation will be reserved in private hospitals of Mumbai.
Also, in a major relief for patients, the state capped prices for personal protective equipment (PPE) at Rs 600 per patient per day in a normal ward and Rs 1,200 per patient in intensive care unit (ICU). A hospital has to justify if it charges extra. An ICU bed cannot be charged beyond Rs 7,500 per day, a ventilator Rs 9,000 per day, and this includes payment for oxygen used for Covid-19 patients, consultation and nursing care.
“Several hospitals were charging Covid-19 patients separately for oxygen. A hospital buys 1,000 litres of oxygen for Rs 17. We realised patients need not be charged exorbitantly for it, so we included it in treatment package,” said Dr Sudhakar Shinde, part of a team that drafted the notification.
“Our analysis also showed that on an average, one-and-a-half healthcare providers enter a normal isolation ward and three enter an ICU per day. Based on that we have fixed Rs 600 and Rs 1,200 for PPE,” he added.
“All hospitals shall give pre-audited bill to the patient. If it is found that extra charges were levied, then excess amount shall be reimbursed to the patient,” the notification said. Hospitals can only charge extra for investigational drugs like Remdesivir, Tocilizumab, other interventional procedures and tests.
“We were looking for more relaxations. Hospitals also need to sustain themselves during the pandemic. We had requested that non-Covid beds not be reserved,” said Joy Chakraborty, COO of PD Hinduja hospital and chairman of the Confederation of Indian Industry (western region, health).
Health officials said that with cases rising across state, there is a continued need to utilise private healthcare for isolation beds. On Monday, 11,852 new cases and 184 deaths due to Covid-19 were recorded in Maharashtra. The state currently has 1.94 lakh active cases.
BMC Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani said, “We requested the state government to continue with reservation. Since more relaxations have been announced today, there may be a spike in cases. We want to be prepared with enough intensive care beds.”
Dr Gautam Bhansali, chief coordinator for private hospitals in Mumbai, said they had requested the government to at least reduce reservation in non-Covid beds. “That was our main demand, which the government has agreed to. Even Sion, KEM and Nair hospitals are treating more non-Covid cases,” he added. While hospitals will not be able to recover cost and continue to incur losses, they are ready to comply with the notification, he said.
Private hospitals in the state are not allowed to reduce the number of isolation beds they were allocated in May, but can increase the capacity if they want.
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