January 27, 2021 9:59:45 pm
The state government may soon take a call on regulating treatment fees in 80 per cent of Covid-19 isolation beds in private hospitals after the Supreme Court asked Maharashtra to reassess the need to reserve beds.
A senior health official said they would take stock of vacant beds meant for Covid-19 patients in government as well as private hospitals. “If government hospitals have a lot of empty beds and can handle the current patients’ load, we may reduce or remove the number of beds for which charges are regulated. But nothing is final as of now,” the health official said.
In December 2020, the state government had said private hospitals must continue to charge the same as government facilities on 80 per cent of Covid-19 isolation beds until February 28.
In October, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court had upheld the contention of private hospitals against the state government’s notification to regulate treatment fee of non-Covid-19 patients in 80 per cent of the isolation beds.
The Maharashtra government then filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court against the high court order. On January 25, the apex court asked Maharashtra to consider reducing the number of reserved beds in private hospitals in the light of reducing Covid-19 cases.
In Mumbai alone, of 13,502 isolation beds, only 3,328 are occupied. The number includes the data from both government and private hospitals. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) shut down the National Sports Club of India jumbo facility last year as the Covid-19 case load reduced.
Dr Gautam Bhansali, consultant physician with Bombay Hospital, said they would meet BMC officials to discuss the issue of bed reservation this week. “We have been compliant with the government’s directions when there was a need. Hopefully, the government will agree to reduce the number of beds reserved for Covid-19 patients. Our non-Covid-19 caseload is also increasing,” Bhansali said.
While Mumbai has a large number of vacant isolation beds, state government officials said they need to assess district-wise bed situation for Covid-19 patients.
In two notifications on April 30 and May 21, Maharashtra reserved 80 per cent beds in all private hospitals, and capped rates of various surgical procedures. An angiography was capped at Rs 12,000, normal delivery at Rs 75,000, a valve replacement at Rs 3.23 lakh, a cataract surgery at Rs 25,000, and so on.
Pacemaker, PPE, intraocular lenses, stents, catheter, balloon, medical implants and consumables could not be charged more than 10 per cent mark-up on net procurement cost. On August 31, the state government issued a third notification, extending the existing notification and also capped charges of oxygen use by patients. The latest notification is valid till the end of February.
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