The state government informed the Bombay High Court Tuesday it has issued a notification to put a cap on the price of personal protective equipment (PPE) kits that private hospitals charge from patients who are admitted on the 80 per cent beds reserved by the state for Covid-19 treatment. The government, however, submitted that it cannot “nationalise” or take over control of the other activities of private hospitals and, hence, it has not put any cap on charges levied by such hospitals for treating patients admitted on the remaining 20 per cent unregulated beds.
A division bench of Justices A A Sayed and S P Tavade was hearing a PIL filed by advocate Abhijeet Mangade that stated some private hospitals were overcharging patients — admitted for treatment of both Covid-19 and other ailments — for ancillary items, including PPE kits, gloves and N95 masks.
While the government was procuring PPE kits for Rs 378 each, the hospitals were overcharging for the same, Mangade said. He submitted though the state had issued a circular on May 21, putting a cap on charges that private hospitals could recover from patients, the hospitals continued to charge exorbitant amounts for PPE kits, besides regular treatment.
As per the August 31 notification, a private hospital cannot charge more than Rs 600 per day per patient admitted at a general ward and over Rs 1,200 per day for a patient admitted at ICU for PPE kits. “Any charge more than this towards PPE needs to be justified,” the circular states.
On Tuesday, Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni and Assistant Government Pleader Nisha Mehra submitted the state’s reply through an affidavit filed through Sadhana M Tayde, Director, Commissioner of Health Services.
Kumbhakoni said, “We can rationalise the rates but cannot nationalise or take over private hospitals and nursing homes as sought by the petitioner. The private hospitals have to adhere to rates prescribed by August 31 notification only for regulated beds, and presently it would not apply to unregulated beds, for which hospitals can recover charges as per their rack rates.”
The state government informed the court it’s decision to constitute a committee for regulating prices of masks and sanitisers, however, the same exercise has not undertaken for PPE kits so far. The court posted further hearing to next week.
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